The late effects of poliomyelitis in Queensland

Lynch, Mary Rose (2001). The late effects of poliomyelitis in Queensland Master's Thesis, School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland.

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Author Lynch, Mary Rose
Thesis Title The late effects of poliomyelitis in Queensland
School, Centre or Institute School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2001-04-12
Thesis type Master's Thesis
Supervisor -
Total pages 179
Language eng
Subjects 11 Medical and Health Sciences
Formatted abstract The purpose of this study was to clarify the nature of new health problems being reported by Queensland residents with a prior history of poliomyelitis. The study was designed to gain information that would guide the development of health services for post-polio individuals in Queensland.

A self-administered questionnaire was mailed to 297 people who made contact with the trial Post Polio Clinic at Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Hospital. Brisbane during 1999. The response rate was 52 percent. Twenty-nine people were excluded who contracted polio outside Australia, had re-existing medical conditions or were not Queensland residents. The final study group contained 126 subjects.

The average age of subjects was 61 years, and 64 percent of subjects were between the ages of 50 and 70 years. Fifty-five percent of the subjects were women. The years of acute poliomyelitis infection ranged from 1917 to 1961. The lower limbs and back were the areas most frequently affected during the acute illness.

The most frequent new symptoms reported were muscle weakness (87 percent), unusual tiredness (79 percent), joint pain (79 percent), muscle pain (61 percent) and muscle cramps (71 percent). Other health problems reported were increased tendency to fall (60 percent), increased sensitivity to cold (57 percent), muscle twitching (50 percent), sleep changes (49 percent) muscle atrophy (48 percent); a new problem with breathing (39 percent), voice changes (31 percent), increased headaches (30 percent) and swallowing difficulties (27 percent).

The average time from acute poliomyelitis infection to the onset of new symptoms was 39 years. There were no statistically significant associations between the presence of new symptoms and current age, gender or number of years since acute poliomyelitis infection. Factors found to be most strongly associated with the severity of new health problems were the severity of acute poliomyelitis illness and current age.

Subjects frequently reported decreased independence with heavy household tasks, stair climbing, using public transport, bathing and walking. Subjects also indicated an increasing requirement for assistive devices. A large proportion of the Queensland cohort reported that post-polio symptoms were making an impact on their employment and lifestyle. Eight-three percent of subjects had made Hfestyle changes as a result of post-polio symptoms and 67 percent of those subjects in the workforce reported making changes to their employment, such as reduced hours of work.

This study has demonstrated that a clinic-based cohort of the poliomyelitis survivor population in Queensland experiences significant levels of impairment and disability. The experience of post-polio symptoms and their impact is similar in the Queensland cohort to the experience of other poliomyelitis survivor populations throughout the world.

It is estimated that there may currently be about 2600 people in Queensland who meet the diagnostic criteria for Post Polio Syndrome and many more who are experiencing the Late Effects of Poliomyelifis. A significant unmet clinical need has been identified for this client group. Recommendations are made regarding the future delivery of health services that would better meet the needs of Queensland poliomyelitis survivors.
Keyword Poliomyelitis -- Complications.
Additional Notes The author has given permission for this thesis to be made open access.

 
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