Polio changed our nation

The article, “Post-polio support group marks 25th anniversary” greatly understates the severity of the polio epidemics. “About 35,000 people were affected by the disease (polio) in the late 1940s and early 1950s” should be 35,000 people were crippled by polio each year, making it one of the most feared diseases of the 20th century. The epidemics closed schools, movie theaters, swimming pools and other public gatherings.

“While polio is a contagious disease, Post-Polio Syndrome cannot be caught from others having the disorder. Only a polio survivor can develop PPS. … Results published in 1994-1995 estimated there were about 1 million polio survivors in the U.S., with 443,000 reporting to have had paralytic polio. Accurate statistics do not exist today, as a percentage of polio survivors have died and new cases have been diagnosed. Researchers estimate that PPS affects 25 to 40 percent of polio survivors.”

Some doctors have more recently speculated that 100 percent of polio survivors may develop PPS. With so many polio survivors at risk of developing PPS, the support group tries to focus on safe therapies that can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. We especially want to inform polio survivors of things to avoid which could worsen their condition. We find strength in knowing that we are not alone and even have members who did not have polio but had a similar disease.

Polio changed our nation. The March of Dimes changed the way charities raise money and contributed to the development of the polio vaccines and rehabilitation. Polio survivors were leaders in the passage of the ADA. The extensive rehabilitation of those with paralytic polio produced the most valued type of citizens – taxpayers.

Warren Peascoe


EDITOR’S NOTE: Warren Peascoe is president of the Mid-Ohio Valley Post-Polio Support Group.