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Update on current and emerging treatment options for post-polio syndrome

Authors Elisabeth Farbu

Published Date July 2010 Volume 2010:6 Pages 307—313

DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/TCRM.S4440

Published 7 July 2010

Elisabeth Farbu
Neurocenter and National Competence Center for Movement Disorders, Stavanger University Hospital, Stavanger, Norway

Abstract: Post-polio syndrome (PPS) refers to the clinical deterioration experienced by many polio survivors several decades after their acute illness. The symptoms are new muscle weakness, decreased muscle endurance, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, cold intolerance, and this typical clinical entity is reported from different parts of the world. The pathophysiology behind PPS is not fully understood, but a combination of distal degeneration of enlarged motor units caused by increased metabolic demands and the normal aging process, in addition to inflammatory mechanisms, are thought to be involved. There is no diagnostic test for PPS, and the diagnosis is based on a proper clinical workup where all other possible explanations for the new symptoms are ruled out. The basic principle of management of PPS lies in physical activity, individually tailored training programs, and lifestyle modification. Muscle weakness and muscle pain may be helped with specific training programs, in which training in warm water seems to be particularly helpful. Properly fitted orthoses can improve the biomechanical movement pattern and be energy-saving. Fatigue can be relieved with lifestyle changes, assistive devices, and training programs. Respiratory insufficiency can be controlled with noninvasive respiratory aids including biphasic positive pressure ventilators. Pharmacologic agents like prednisone, amantadine, pyridostigmine, and coenzyme Q10 are of no benefit in PPS. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) has been tried in three studies, all having positive results. IVIG could probably be a therapeutic alternative, but the potential benefit is modest, and some important questions are still unanswered, in particular to which patients this treatment is useful, the dose, and the therapeutic interval.

Keywords: polio, survivors, fatigue, aging, therapeutics

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