Lincolnshire Post-Polio Library - A Service of The Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network
[ LPPN Reception ][ LPPN Library ][ LPPN Networking ][ LPPN Directory ][ What's New? ]


Susan L Fish MAPT

During recent years, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with patients experiencing the late effects of polio. Many times I have detected some frustration and anger regarding my professionals lack of experience in treating Post-Polio patients. I write this brief article now for two reasons.

  1. to explain and help you understand this lack of knowledge on the part of many of my colleagues.
  2. to provide some guidelines regarding Do's and Don'ts when seeking physical therapy.

Most Physical Therapists (PT's) (Physiotherapists in UK) working today weren't even alive during the major polio epidemics. Their formal education regarding poliomyeliitis was more historical than factual, with little more than definitions of pathology and no clinical experience. Post-Polio Syndrome is only recently being recognised and it's existence is still questioned in some medical circles. Both acute polio and post polio syndrome present clinical pictures which are unlike any other neuromuscular condition. Without the experience of working with acute polio patients and with little documented information regarding the treatment of Post-Polio Syndrome, it is not surprising to find professionals lacking in knowledge.

Although, there may be reasons for a lack of knowledge, a responsible professional should NOT treat any condition that he or she is not confident and knowledgeable in treating. You may be able to direct a PT to appropriate resources. Please see the resources at the end of this article and I would be happy to help also.

Reasons for seeking physical therapy will vary. You may be referred to a PT to help you with your Post-Polio Syndrome. You may be referred for rehabilitation following corrective surgery for a polio related condition. You may also be referred for a condition not necessarily related to polio at all such as arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, fractures, osteoporosis, low back pain, stiff neck, etc, etc. Your physical therapist is well trained to treat these other conditions. However, your post polio status should be taken into consideration when designing a program. Here is some advice.

Do's and Don'ts to keep in mind when going for physical therapy.

Do trust yourself and the knowledge you have gained over the years about your body.
Do be willing to alter your lifestyle.
Do avoid fatigue.
Do get enough rest.
Do pace your activities rather than discontinuing them.
Do conserve energy. It may make more sense to spread your activities out, allowing for rest periods, rather than eliminating interests and activities.
Do recognise that your body is aging and some physical changes will occur which are not related to post-polio. There IS a normal aging process even though post-polio may be a part of it.
Do respect your feelings. This may be a difficult adjustment time for you; seeking emotional as well as physical guidance may be a wise thing to consider.
Don't follow advice regarding physical exercise if you become fatigued while doing it.
Don't become short of breath with exercise.
Don't do more than your body feels comfortable doing.
Don't cause pain with activity or exercise.
Don't gain weight.
Don't reject using aids and assisting devices without giving them serious thought. (They are meant to conserve energy and preserve anatomical structures, i.e. joints, muscles, tendons, cartilage and ligaments.) Most are delighted and surprised by the increased endurance and energy they have with the use of canes, wheelchairs, motorised scooters or the many other easily found assisting devices.


  1. Dean, Elizabeth. Clinical Decision Making in the Management of Late Sequela Poliomyelitis. Physical Therapy Oct 1991,Vol 71; 10 752 - 761
  2. Weiss, Marianne R. Becoming an intelligent Consumer of Physical Therapy Sen/ices, Polio Network News Winter and Spring 1993, Vol. 9 Nos. 1 and 2.

[ Top of Article ]

[ Catalogue (content) ][ Catalogue (source) ]

[ LPPN Reception ][ LPPN Library ][ LPPN Networking ][ LPPN Directory ][ What's New? ]

The Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network
Registered Charity No. 1064177
An Information Service for Polio Survivors and Medical Professionals

69 Woodvale Avenue, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, LN6 3RD United Kingdom
TEL: +44 (0)1522 888601 FAX: +44 (0)1522 885115


All Post-Polio related enquiries including requests for further information
please email
Any comments, suggestions or problems with this web site please email

We subscribe to the HONcode principles
of the Health On the Net Foundation
HON, an international initiative and non-profit organisation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, dedicated to realising the benefits of the Internet and related technologies in the fields of medicine and healthcare.

BHIA logo
Member of the
British Healthcare Internet Association
The advancement of healthcare through the application of Internet technologies.

The Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network takes great care in the transcription of all information that appears at this site. However, we do not accept liability for any damage resulting directly or otherwise from any errors introduced in the transcription. Neither do we accept liability for any damage resulting directly or otherwise from the information available at this site. The opinions expressed in the documents available at this site are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily constitute endorsement or approval by the Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network.

© The Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network 1997 1998

Copyright is retained by The Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network and/or original author(s). Permission is granted to print copies of individual articles for personal use provided they are printed in their entirety. Links from other Internet WWW sites are welcome and encouraged. We only ask that you let us know so that we can in future notify you of critical changes. Reproduction and redistribution of any articles via any media, with the exception of the aforementioned, requires permission from The Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network and where applicable, the original author(s).

Document preparation: Chris Salter, Original Think-tank, Cornwall, United Kingdom.
Document Reference: <URL:>
Created: 26th January 1997
Last modification: 26th September 1998

Document HTML 3.2 Validated We Rated With RSACi