Post-Polio Health Care Considerations for Families and Friends  

Post-Polio Health International


Click to print booklet pdf.




"My father is in the hospital slowly recovering from prostate cancer surgery. The physical therapist tells us he 'should be walking' by now. As a kid growing up, I knew his limp was from polio but he never talked about it. I need to learn about polio. I am embarrassed to say, but I don't know anything about it. Is his polio causing problems after all these years?"

"My sister choked on some food, passed out and is in the hospital with a tube down her throat (intubated) so she can breathe. What information should I give the physicians so we are sure they understand how having had polio could affect her recovery."

"My mother is in the ICU after a heart attack. When I first saw her, I didn't recognize her. She always took control of her own health issues (and didn't trust physicians much). I recall her saying that most physicians don't know polio. How can I be sure she is getting the best treatment?"


In the '80s and '90s, polio survivors themselves searched for answers to their new health problems, and Post-Polio Health International (PHI) responded by creating informational publications specifically for them. The change was gradual but by the mid-2000s, more calls came from family members and friends than from polio survivors themselves. The callers expressed fear, ignorance, confusion and guilt. They were afraid of what might happen to their loved one, ignorant of the basic facts about polio, confused about the late effects of polio and guilt-ridden because of what they did not know.

Recognizing the problem, PHI received funding from The Phyllis and Max Reynolds Foundation Inc. (Marquette, Michigan), with additional assistance from The Chervenak-Nunnallé Foundation (New York, New York), to develop answers to assure aging polio survivors receive appropriate medical treatment and care.

A panel of experts with experience in treating and educating the survivors of polio compiled facts and wisdom targeting family members and friends caring for relatives who had polio. Polio survivors and families suggested items to be included in the packet of information and reviewed it.



Joan L. Headley, MS, and Frederick M. Maynard, MD


Stephanie T. Machell, PsyD, and Holly H. Wise, PT, PhD

©Copyright 2011 Post-Polio Health International

4207 Lindell Blvd., #110, St. Louis, Missouri 63108-2930

314-534-0475, 314-534-5070 fax,

To Flowchart

To Outline

To Post-Polio Health Care Considerations home

To PHI's website,