While Australia was officially declared polio-free in the year 2000, many survivors still live with the impact of the once-widespread disease.
It’s not uncommon for some polio survivors to experience symptoms returning decades after their initial recovery, known as the late effects of polio or post-polio syndrome.
These symptoms include increased fatigue, muscle weakness, joint pain, increased sensitivity to cold and difficulties with swallowing and sleeping.
The late effects of polio can have a significant impact on mobility, energy levels and quality of life.
Physiotherapy, rehabilitation and being aware of your limitations can help managing the condition, which is why early intervention is recommended.
The late effects of polio are often mistaken as a sign of ageing by medical professionals who are not aware that polio symptoms can return, which is why it’s important to discuss your history with your doctor.
Supporting survivors and raising awareness
We support people experiencing the late effects of polio with advocacy and community connections and other services.
This includes raising awareness about the late effects of polio, as part of an education campaign focused on health professionals to increase their knowledge and support them to better diagnose and treat polio survivors as they age.
We have created an information brochure for medical professionals, which was the first of its kind to be designated as an accepted clinical resource by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).
We also worked closely with leading providers of medical advice for polio survivors in Queensland to develop Australia’s first comprehensive online education module for GPs about the late effects of polio.
As this module has also been accredited by the RACGP, we were able to provide the training through ThinkGP, an online platform for GPs to access professional development courses.
The one-hour module is called ‘What’s polio got to do with general practice in Australia in 2020?’ and aims to educate GPs on the late effects of polio and how to identify and support patients who may be experiencing symptoms.
With the module being promoted to tens of thousands of health professionals, we are seeing more and more GPs accessing this module to create better outcomes for polio survivors in future.
Accessing information and support
- Discuss your experiences with the late effects of polio with your health professional, therapists, and family. Feel free to print a copy of our information brochure to pass on.
- Contact us to discuss your situation, find out more information you can share with your GP or to locate your nearest support group.
- Become a member of Spinal Life to:
You can also access more information on the Polio Australia website.