Polio Place

A service of Post-Polio Health International


Swallowing Difficulty and the Late Effects of Polio

Barbara C. Sonies, PhD, CCC, BRS-S, College Park, Maryland

A major polio epidemic in the mid-20th century left many survivors with a wide variety of physical limitations including problems swallowing foods. Many persons with swallowing problems also had original bulbar signs of polio including difficulty breathing, clearing the throat, speaking and singing.

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Pflex® (my new friend) and More and Physician Response

Carol Wallace, MEd, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Austin, Texas

I contracted polio in 1951 at age 5. Acute and rehabilitation hospitalization totaled two-and-a-half years with six months of iron lung treatment. Both my upper extremities and are paralyzed with only partial and weak right-hand motor function. As an adult, my forced vital capacity averages 48 percent. I require noninvasive mechanical ventilation whenever supine.

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Is weaning the appropriate goal?

Users of noninvasive ventilation (NIV) who choke, get pneumonia or have major surgery, and end up trached, many times are transferred either to a skilled nursing facility or to a long-term acute care hospital. They are told they can't be discharged until they are weaned from the vent. Should complete weaning be the paramount goal, particularly when individuals have used NIV successfully in the past?

Charles W. Atwood, Jr, MD, FCCP, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Tests for Breathing Problems If You Have a Neuromuscular Condition

Reviewed by Nicholas S. Hill, MD, Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts

If you have a neuromuscular condition such as post-polio syndrome, ALS, or Duchenne muscular dystrophy, you may not realize that your breathing muscles are weak and can become weaker. You may have difficulty breathing in deeply enough to fully expand your lungs or coughing strongly enough to clear mucus from your lungs.

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Breathing and Sleep Problems in Polio Survivors

Reviewed by Nicholas S. Hill, MD, Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts

It is critically important that polio survivors, especially those diagnosed with post-polio syndrome, obtain proper testing, diagnosis, and management of breathing and sleep problems.The problems may result from weak breathing muscles in the chest and abdomen (diaphragm and intercostals).

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High Tech Breathing

David Cotcher

Breathing is fundamental to life. If we do not take in sufficient oxygen or get rid of carbon dioxide (CO2) it affects every part of our body. I had polio at about 18 months and at seven I started to have a curvature of my back that developed into a double curvature called kyphoscoliosis. As I grew my muscles were weaker on one side than the other causing my back and rib cage curvature. This restricts my lung volume.

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How My Vent and I Underwent Radiation Therapy

Richard Daggett, California

Just because we have one disabling condition doesn’t make us immune to other health problems. I am a respiratory polio survivor who uses trach positive pressure ventilation fulltime. In February 2005, a biopsy of my prostate detected cancer. The initial prognosis was not good. I tried to keep a positive outlook, but it seemed that with every new test the prognosis got worse.

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Modern anesthesia has become extremely safe, but many survivors fear it because of reports of problems during and after anesthesia. Potential problems include a greater sensitivity to the paralyzing drugs (muscle relaxants), possible need for mechanical ventilation after surgery, and pain problems after surgery. All survivors, especially those with a history of respiratory involvement, need to tell their surgeon and anesthesiologist about having had polio (Calmes, 1997).

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Anesthesia and colonoscopy

Selma H. Calmes MD, Retired Anesthesiologist

Many polio patients fear anesthesia. Multiple surgeries in childhood were common for those who had polio and anesthesia care then was not as sophisticated as it is today. Modern anesthesia is much improved since the time of polio epidemics! In this session, an anesthesiologist familiar with modern anesthesia practice and polio will answer recent, common questions asked by post-polio patients. If time, the audience can ask their own questions.

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"Our goal in this video is to introduce Hatha yoga, breath awareness and stress reduction to people with Post-Polio Syndrome in order to increase their energy, reduce fatigue and create an increased sense of well-being.

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