Polio Place

A service of Post-Polio Health International


Parallel Bar Practice

Mary Hemby; Age 2, 1954; Nebraska

I contracted polio in Nebraska at age two in 1954. When I was released from the hospital after about six weeks, I had to wear two long leg braces. This is a picture of me learning to walk with parallel bars my dad had a friend build for me. They were set up in the middle of our living room for two months. I am told I practiced a couple times a day. My two older sisters took full advantage of them. My sister, Marsha, is in the background doing flips on the bars! That probably made it more of a game for me.

Crutches were the next phase, for another two months. Then one brace broke. So, we discovered that I didn't need that one. I wore one brace and walked without crutches from then on. I learned to ride a bicycle and swim like many children. A surgery at age nine failed to improve my walking ability.

After graduating from college, I moved to Texas to escape the winters. I became a Montessori teacher, married and had two beautiful daughters.

Thirty years after polio, I began getting weaker, so I switched to a desk job. In 1988, I stopped working and applied for and received benefits. Today, I don't wear a brace but use a power wheelchair full-time. My "good" leg helps with transfers. I am a widow now and my daughter assists me with shopping and cleaning. 


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