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Contempo Updates
July 26, 2000

Characteristics and Management of Postpolio Syndrome

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Neurology, State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse (Dr Jubelt); and Department of Physiatry, Howard Young Medical Center, Woodruff, Wis (Dr Agre).

JAMA. 2000;284(4):412-414. doi:10.1001/jama.284.4.412

Postpolio syndrome (PPS) refers to new, late manifestations occurring many years after acute poliomyelitis infection. Over the last 25 years, PPS has become a relatively common problem encountered by primary care physicians. A 1987 National Health Interview Survey estimated that about half of the 640,000 survivors of paralytic poliomyelitis in the United States had new late manifestations of PPS.1 Subsequent studies in the 1990s have found the occurrence of PPS among patients with previous poliomyelitis to range from 28.5% to 64%.2-4 The average time in various reports from the acute poliomyelitis until the onset of PPS is about 35 years, with a range from 8 to 71 years.1 However, it is unclear if the occurrence of PPS increases with aging, which may be the case based on the most accepted etiologic hypothesis. The large number of PPS cases presently being seen is probably due to the poliomyelitis epidemics of the 1940s and 1950s.1