Post-polio Syndrome

Therapeutic Massage on Various Symptoms of A Polio Survivor: A Case Report


Background/Objective: Poliomyelitis is a very severe disease, brought on by the Polio virus. Symptoms are “characterized by aseptic meningitis and weakness or paralysis of one or more extremities, along with weakness of one or more muscle groups”.(3) Post Polio Syndrome or PPS (i.e., neurological decline) may arise in “20-75% polio survivors, 15 to more than 60 years after acute paralytic or non-paralytic disease”.(2) The objective of this case report is to make public the effects of massage therapy on the symptoms associated with being a Polio survivor.

Case Presentation: The client is a 68 year old male, diagnosed with Polio in 1950. The clients left leg was greatly affected by the disease, resulting in the deterioration of lower leg musculature and a 23mm structural leg length inequality (corrected with full foot lift). The client presented with diplopia (double vision), aching pain in hips and low back, and pain with abduction of the shoulder.

Intervention: Treatment was provided in 10, one-hour treatments over the course of 5 weeks. A student enrolled in an accredited, 1278-hour massage program provided all treatments. In the beginning of each treatment, the therapist completed an in-depth postural chart of the client, initially displaying multiple cranial and postural distortions. The treatment approach was geared towards reaching postural equilibrium in order to alleviate pain, by treating what is indicated by inequalities shown on the postural charts and symptoms of the patient. Protocols used for treatment include manual therapy for muscles, organs, and cranial bone alignment.

Outcome: All but one category assessed yielded clinically significant results. Even the category that wasn’t clinically significant, displayed a 68.42% improvement over the course of the study. Massage therapy should be considered a valid option to assist in alleviating pain and discomfort associated with being a polio survivor.

Keywords: Poliomyelitis; aseptic; meningitis; PPS; diplopia; massage