Spinal Cord 1997 Aug; 35(8): 503-8
ABSTRACT: The purpose of this investigation was to study subjective symptoms, medical and social situation, pulmonary function and physical work capacity during a period of 3-5 years in patients with the postpolio syndrome. We evaluated 68 patients consecutively admitted to our hospital because of postpolio syndrome, and re-evaluated 63 of the same patients 3-5 years later, 43 women and 20 men with mean age 55 +/- 10 (1 SD) years at the second evaluation. The patients answered a questionnaire about their subjective symptoms and medical and social situation, and underwent spirometry as well as symptom-limited exercise stress testing. Most patients experienced increasing symptoms and physical disability related to their polio, while the majority reported that their mental health were unchanged or improved. The lung function was in average moderately reduced of restrictive type, and only minor changes were found during the 3-5 years. A pronounced reduction in peak oxygen uptake was seen at the first evaluation, especially in women. At the second examination, peak oxygen uptake was further decreased, especially in men, more than predicted from increasing age. The patients increased their body mass index significantly during the same period. These results indicate that subjective symptoms and physical disability related to polio increased with increasing age in these patients with the post-polio syndrome, and cardiorespiratory deconditioning and weight gain also became increasing problems in most patients. However, the mental status of the patients remained stable or improved, possibly due to our comprehensive re-rehabilitation and educational programme.