Objective: To investigate the impact of age and co-morbidity on the functional independence and perceived physical functioning of patients with sequelae of poliomyelitis.
Design: Cross sectional study.
Subjects: A convenience sample of 168 patients with sequelae of poliomyelitis, aged 45-85 years, recruited from 2 university hospitals.
Methods: Outcome measures were Functional Independence Measure (FIMTM) for functional independence, Short Form-36 (SF-36) for physical functioning and general mental health, Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS) for co-morbidity.
Results: FIMTM scores were significantly lower for the 65-85 year age group than for the 45-54 year age group. No differences in the SF-36 were found between the age groups, except that the SF-36 general mental health sub-scale score was significantly better in the 65-85 year age group than in the 45-54 year age group. The CIRS score increased significantly with age. Linear regression showed that age, gender, polio severity, and 4 co-morbidity scores ("cardiac", "vascular", "endocrine, metabolic"and "muscle, bone, skin") were significantly and inversely associated with functional independence and physical functioning.
Conclusion: The level of functional independence of elderly former poliomyelitis patients is lower than that of younger patients. Specific attention should be paid to co-morbidity and ageing in this increasingly older population of polio survivors, since they negatively affect functional independence and perceived functioning.