Aging and sequelae of poliomyelitis

Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2010 Feb;53(1):24-33. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Nov 10.


Objective: We estimate that there are about 50,000 persons who survived poliomyelitis in their childhood in France (mean age estimated between 50 and 65 years). After a few decades of stability, 30 to 65% of individuals who had been infected and recovered from polio begin to experience new signs and symptoms.

Method: Review of the literature on Pubmed with the following keywords "Poliomyelitis" and "Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS)".

Results: These new signs and symptoms are characterized by muscular atrophy (decreased muscle mass), muscle weakness and fatigue, muscle and/or joint pain. All these symptoms lead to significant changes in mobility with falls and inability to carry on with daily life activities. There are several intricate causes. The normal aging process and weight gain are regularly blamed. Respiratory disorders and sleep disorders must be looked for: respiratory insufficiency, sleep-related breathing disorders such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome. Orthopedics complications are quite common: soft-tissue pathologies of the upper limbs, degenerative pathologies of the large joints or spinal cord, fall-related fractures. Finally, the onset of an authentic PPS is possible.

Conclusion: The therapeutic care of this late functional deterioration requires regular monitoring check-ups in order to implement preventive measures and appropriate treatment. This therapeutic care must be multidisciplinary as physical rehabilitation; orthotics and technical aids are all essential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Arthralgia / physiopathology
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / physiopathology
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Muscle Weakness / physiopathology
  • Muscular Atrophy / physiopathology
  • Poliomyelitis / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / physiopathology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology