70% of polio survivors cannot afford the physio they need

Press Release – World Polio Day 24th October 2019

Polio survivors are facing difficulties accessing or affording essential physiotherapy to maintain mobility and reduce risk of falls.

People who had polio as children or young adults need physiotherapy to help maintain their mobility, reduce pain, and to reduce risk of falls and injury, yet 70% of those surveyed cannot afford enough physio to meet their needs.

Polio survivors should have access to regular physiotherapy assessment to manage polio-related difficulties. Physiotherapy can also be used preventively in order to reduce further deterioration that will impact on survivors.

Polio survivors have overcome enormous adversity but still need help – as many as 40% of survivors will develop Post Polio Syndrome, a condition which causes new weakness, pain, fatigue, cold intolerance, and respiratory dysfunction.  Late Effects of Polio can cause arthritic changes in joints due to wear and tear or over-compensation, as well as sensitivity to the cold and osteoporosis among other issues.

“Today, a majority of polio survivors with a medical card in Ireland cannot access enough physio to meet their needs,” says Fran Brennan, CEO, Polio Survivors Ireland. “For those without a medical card, as many as 70% cannot afford to pay for the physiotherapy that they require to maintain their independence, manage pain and minimise falls.

“There is no cure for Late Effects of Polio or PPS, just as there is no cure for polio, but there is management, and all survivors should have easy and affordable access to the services they need,” adds Mr Brennan. “Access and affordability of Physio has been identified through our member surveys as a significant issue for those who are already struggling with disability brought on by polio.”

World Polio Day is marked on Wednesday 24th October 2018. World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis. Polio mainly affects children under age 5. There is no cure, but it is preventable with vaccination. Polio is now only endemic in three countries and Rotary is working to eradicate polio for good.

Polio Survivors Ireland works to ensure that those who had polio, living in Ireland, can live out their lives with dignity. Late effects of polio can cause symptoms of sleep impairment, fatigue, new muscle weakness, muscle and joint pain, atrophy of muscle, cold intolerance, speech difficulties, difficulty swallowing, and respiratory dysfunction.