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July 1, 1939


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Physical Therapy of the New York Hospital and Cornell University Medical College and the Hospital for Ruptured and Crippled.

JAMA. 1939;113(1):32-35. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800260034010

When one turns back the pages of medical history and reads of the epidemics of the Middle Ages, one is struck by two things: the helplessness of the population and the superstition of the human mind. When an epidemic of poliomyelitis occurs today, the helplessness remains but the superstition has gone. Very little is known of the prevention of poliomyelitis. No specific treatment exists for the acute stage of the disease, but considerable progress has been made in the convalescent care of the residual paralysis. Statistics collected in Sweden between 1905 and 1937 showed 25,000 cases of poliomyelitis, 4,000 deaths and 10,000 cases of residual paralysis. This means that 40 per cent of the patients were left more or less physically handicapped and shows the reason for the dread of epidemics. Harry 1 of England has reported that 648 sporadic cases of poliomyelitis occur annually.

In this paper I shall