Polio or poliomyelitis is an infectious disease caused by a virus. The polio virus can affect many parts of the body including the nerves, which leads to paralytic polio. Before the development of vaccines for polio, it was a global epidemic and leading cause of disability. The disease has been eradicated from the Western world, but it still affects many developing countries.
Prognosis of polio
- Recovery from subclinical and non-paralytic polio: Everyone infected with the virus does not develop paralysis. Based on the symptoms and severity of symptoms, polio infection is categorized into three patterns: subclinical infections, non-paralytic and paralytic. Most infected people (approximately 95%) have sub-clinical infection i.e. they have no symptoms or their symptoms may last 72 hours or less. Patients with subclinical and non-paralytic forms of polio recover without any residual problems.
- Prognosis of paralytic polio: When the virus infects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), it can cause paralytic polio. Fortunately, in more than 90% of cases, the central nervous system is not affected. Disability is more common than death in people, who develop paralytic polio. About two thirds of people with paralytic polio develop permanent weakness. After the acute stage, physical therapy, braces or corrective shoes or orthopaedic surgery are needed to regain muscle strength and function.
- Post-polio syndrome: Some people with paralytic polio can develop a medical problem, known as post-polio syndrome (PPS). The condition has been noted to occur in people, who had polio during their childhood. According to estimates, about 25-50 % of the paralytic polio survivors develop this complication. People with this syndrome usually have fatigue, muscular weakness, joint pain and breathing problems. PPS is usually not life threatening, but it can interfere significantly with activities of everyday life. Treatment approach for management of PPS includes physical therapy known as "pacing", use of mobility aids such as walking sticks or scooters, weight control and healthy eating, pain relieving medication and psychological therapy.