Polio Place

A service of Post-Polio Health International


Feeling Like a Failure

Post-Polio Health, (Volume 31, Number 3) Summer 2015

Dr. Rhoda Olkin is a Distinguished Professor of Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology in San Francisco, as well as the Executive Director of the Institute on Disability and Health Psychology. 

She is a polio survivor and single mother of two grown children.

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Fatigue (Constantly Tired)

Post-Polio Health, Volume 29, Number 1, Winter 2013
Ask Dr. Maynard
Frederick M. Maynard, MD

Question: I had polio in both legs at age 10 in 1953 and was unable to walk for a year.

With therapy and exercise, I pretty well recovered in one leg and can walk without help. How does fatigue affect people who have had polio? I’m constantly tired. A sleep study shows some sleep apnea and some restless leg syndrome waking me up.

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Numbness in Leg of Polio Survivor

Frederick Maynard, MD, retired physiatrist

There are many causes of numbness, but post-polio syndrome is never the DIRECT cause. Polio affected motor nerves only and, therefore, does not lead to numbness or true loss of feeling.

Numbness and tingling are, however, common complaints among polio survivors because of the many musculoskeletal problems that they develop as they become older and because of other medical and neurologic conditions they may concurrently develop.

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Aging Well with Post-Polio Syndrome: Don’t Take Fatigue Lying Down

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Aging with a Physical Disability (2011)

Fatigue is a major problem for many people with post-polio syndrome (PPS), one that is frustrating and hard to measure. It’s a symptom that can affect your ability to work, your mobility and your quality of life. People with PPS report fatigue as their most persistent and debilitating symptom.

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Fear of Using a Cane

From the series, Polio Survivors Ask, by Nancy Baldwin Carter, B.A, M.Ed.Psych, from Omaha, Nebraska, is a polio survivor, a writer, and is founder and former director of Nebraska Polio Survivors Association.

Q: A friend who had polio told me that since he uses a cane, people give him more room so he has less fear of being bumped by others. He wishes he used it a few years earlier. Me, too! How can we help people “get over” the fear of looking disabled?

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Options When a Post-Polio Clinic Is Not an Option

Carol Vandenakker, MD
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
University of California, Davis, Health System
Sacramento, California

Presented at PHI’s 9th International Conference: Strategies for Living Well (June 2005)

A. You must start with a good primary care physician.

1. Keys to finding a good doctor:

a. Look for a physician you trust and can communicate with.

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PPS Pain and Fatigue

Linda Cannon Rowan

When I complain to my doctor about pain or fatigue, he usually tells me that I am not getting enough rest.


A day without pain is rare.

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Why Should You Consider Seeing a PT? Choosing a PT.

One excellent reason for seeing a PT in the absence of declining physical function is to undergo a well-rounded baseline evaluation against which future problems might be measured.

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New muscle weakness is the hallmark of post-polio syndrome and can significantly impact activities of daily living. Some amount of new muscle weakness is likely to occur in about half of post-polio individuals (Jubelt & Drucker, 1999). Muscle weakness is most likely to occur in muscles previously affected during the acute poliomyelitis followed by a partial or full recovery (Cashman et al., 1987; Dalakas & Illa, 1991).

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Jane Dummer, Maryland

I am qualified to speak about fatigue because I fade right after lunch. When I agreed to speak, I realized very quickly I was going to discuss something which is global, yet something I really cannot define for you.

So what am I going to say? Fatigue is a normal part of living. Perhaps I can say something about what I have experienced that would help people who do not yet know they have polio-related fatigue to see how it may be different from the fatigue that anyone who is alive has.

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