The psychological aspects of polio survivors through their life experience

Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2010 Feb;53(1):60-7. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Dec 6.


Objectives: After several decades of stability, polio survivors often experience new signs and symptoms of their condition, characterized by global and muscular fatigue, decreased muscular strength and pain. The hypothesis of a potential underlying psychological component has been suggested.

Method: This article aims to report how polio survivors cope with their condition based on an analysis of the literature and the authors' experience.

Results: The literature does not report a higher prevalence of psychological disorders (mood disorders, depression) in polio survivors than in the general population. Conversely, the psychological impact of the patients' decreasing abilities, regardless of the cause, is regularly reported. Most patients report a restricted involvement in their daily life activities.

Discussion and conclusion: It is essential to be aware of the patients' experience in coping with polio as children as well as the medical treatments they went through in order to better understand their various types of complaints and sometimes their reluctance to go back to a medical environment. With such widespread information on post-polio syndrome (PPS) and all the uncertainties surrounding it, patients fear a late onset deterioration of their condition. In order to provide the best therapeutic advice, it is essential to have a good knowledge of the symptoms but also take the time and listen to patients in order to differentiate the underlying physical and psychological components in symptoms of pain and fatigue.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Poliomyelitis / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology*