Information on the Late Effects of Polio including self-management strategies and how to work with health professionals will be discussed at a free information session for polio survivors next month.
Polio Australia will conduct the session for polio survivors, along with their families and carers, at 10.30am on On Tuesday, February 4, at the Orange Senior Citizens' Centre in Kite Street.
Although polio is considered a thing of the past in Australia, there are still people, whether born here or overseas, who may now be experiencing new symptoms as they get older.
Many remember the trauma of months or even years of isolation in hospitals, immobilisation in complicated braces, and even the iron lung.
Some went on to make a full or partial recovery and polio was just a distant childhood memory.
Among them was Orange resident Michael Hutchinson of Orange who was 18 months old when he contracted the virus and has no memory of the initial illness but went to hospital in Sydney, for several months at time, to have corrective surgeries on his legs every few years throughout his childhood.
Mr Hutchinson made a good recovery and lived a normal life with work, marriage, and children until about 15 to 20 years ago when new symptoms started to emerge.
"Each year after that it depleted a little bit further," Mr Hutchinson said.
He said the new symptoms included an increase in leg weakness so he now relies on crutches to get around and finds it more difficult to do his usual daily activities.
The changes, which are are due to a collection of symptoms commonly known as the Late Effects of Polio can include new or increasing muscle weakness, reduced endurance and fatigue, difficulty with breathing and sleep, chronic pain and speech and swallowing problems.
Polio Australia's president and a polio survivor Gillian Thomas said with little knowledge of post-polio issues in the medical community, polio survivors often have to do their own learning and become self-advocates, addressing issues such as avoiding overuse of muscles and taking precautions with anaesthesia.
"For many ageing polio survivors, the re-emergence of symptoms, known as the Late Effects of Polio, can be quite debilitating," she said.
"Polio Australia's community information sessions provide historical context, as well as facilitating a discussion around how people can best manage their current condition."
Anyone who has been affected by polio, along with their families or carers can to attend the information session.
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