Healthy Aging Tips from Sit and Be Fit's Mary Ann Wilson RN
By Mary Ann Wilson RN

Post-polio is not a flare-up of the polio virus. The symptoms are thought to be related to overusing the surviving nerve cells that have been doing double-duty. Post-polio syndrome can be characterized by a variety of symptoms including: generalized joint and muscle pain, severe fatigue following moderate activity, muscle weakness and loss of muscle use.

The key word connected with Post-polio is “overuse.” Post-polio survivors should never overdo their activities. Research indicates that exercising three times a week is best, starting out slowly and using three to six repetitions. Using a set of muscles then taking a break using different muscles, then back to the first set is helpful. Since overuse of the shoulders is a common problem, a chair with an armrest helps so shoulders don’t have to support the weight of your arms.

Post-polio survivors must use twice as much energy to activate muscle, so the muscle fatigues more easily. ALL exercises are an overload for the person managing post-polio. The muscles will never be totally normal but they can function as long as they are not fatigued.

Exercise guidelines for post-polio syndrome

1. Check with a post-polio specialist for analysis of muscle strength and exact guidelines specific to the results of your test.
2. Only muscles that test Grade 4 or 5 muscles should be considered for exercise.
3. Five repetitions of any given exercise at 50%-70% of capacity.
4. Ask a post-polio about lifestyle adjustment considerations.
5. Avoid anything that causes pain or fatigue that lasts 10 minutes or longer.
6. Find the delicate balance between atrophy from disuse, and destroying muscle units from overuse.
7. Simplify and make everyday tasks easier.
8. Upper extremity overuse problems are common in polio survivors. Save your shoulders by reducing reaching movements, supporting your arms when possible and bringing work up to you, keeping it close to your body.
9. Take pressure off shoulders by bending your elbows and bringing your arm and hand closer to body.
10. As with other chronic condition, it’s important for anyone managing post-polio to grieve the loss of the things that can no longer be done and focus on the quality of life still experienced.
11. Know your limits. There is no way to “push” through post-polio. The “no pain, no gain” philosophy does not apply to this condition.
12. Manage your time and energy to accommodate limitations.

For more information, contact:
International Polio Network at 314-534-0475 or www.post-polio.org

 

 

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9 Comments

  1. This is so true, Had bulbar polio 64 years ago, at age 14. Voice is biggest issue to know the balance. Have gone without being able to talk for weeks, months, numerous times. Now talk very little. Using facebook to communicate is very helpful. Looking for anyone to share helpful tips.

  2. I HAD POLIO AT AGE3, 65 YEARS AGO. ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO I WAS FULL ACTIVE.

    I HAVE SLOWED DOWN A LOT SINCE THEN. I CAN NO LONGER WALK SIGNIFICENT DISTANCES, USE A BIKE OR OTHER DRY LAND EXCERCISES.

    I NOW HAVE A SERIES OF POOL EXCERCIS THAT I DO THAT TAKE 50 MINUITES, ( HAD A PRESCRIPTION, AND GOT THE EXCERCISES FROM A REHAB POOL PLACE). THESE EXCERCISES INCLUDE WALKING FORWARD & BACKWARD (15 MINUITES) AND SIDEWAYS (8 MINUITES), I BEND THE KNEES, FORWARD, BACKWARD & THE LEGS , FORWARD, BACKWARD AND SIDEWAYS. AND DEEP WATER TREAD WATER 10 MINUITES, CLIMB STEPS IN THE WATER AND BALLANCE ON EACH FOOT. I MADE A WAYER DUMBELL OF PLASTEC PIPE AND NOODLES I USE FOR EXCERCISING MY ARMS UP & DOWN & ONE ARM DOWN AT A TIME (ROTATING). ( I CAN NO LONGER SWIM).

    THE Y IS FREE TO MEDICARE PEOPLE, AND ALWAYS OPEN TO ME.

    1. I am fatigued just reading about your exertions in the pool! I will assume that you had to work up to this much exercise?

    2. I tried swimming, and felt no pain as long as I was in water. Once I got out I was in full fledge ache & pain. It lasted for 3 days. We have to travel 30 minutes to get there, so can’t afford gas. We have Fitness Center here in town. I’m starting out extremely slow on nu-step, no resistance. Hopefully this will help.

  3. i’m a 45 year old polio survivor, finding myself as I aged more and more comfortable with exercising and adapting to my daily routines. At times I get a little scare with the comments of older survivors, their sufferings, their pains and difficulties. thank you for this blog.

  4. I’m trying to contact a PPsupport group. In Florida. Could someone help me. I am working on manuscript for book on Chronic pain now. Have newest one coming to market in August

  5. Daniel, did you have any issues related to the polio from age 3 to 58? Did the weakness and pain begin around age 58 without any prior warning?

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