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Notes from the Practice of Harold Goodman, D.O.

Post-polio syndrome and osteopathy  Thursday, April 21, 2011

It is very common for patients who have had polio to suffer decades following recovery from the initial infection with what is termed post-polio syndrome. These people often have major fatigue, paralysis and muscle weakness. In 1977 it was estimated that there were over 250,000 such people in the US.

I was trained as a physiatrist ( specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation) during a three year post-graduate residency at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Washington, DC. One of my mentors there was a specialist in this syndrome which he himself struggled with.

Osteopathy has much to offer such patients as I will now relate.

Today I had a visitor from Australia who is a polio survivor. She presented with very severe torso pain which had been aggravated by her long journey, packing and other factors. When I examined her I found that her entire body had been altered as a result of the polio years ago.

One leg was demonstrably longer than the other which adversely effected everything above it. In addition, her hip capsule on that side was so tight that her entire body appeared lopsided. Her diaphragm was in spasm since there are muscles (ex.psoas) which attach there and then go down to attachments in the hip. Much of this is also related to connective tissue continuity.

Her spine had been pulled over to one side which resulted in the ribs getting stuck.

All of this made her a sitting duck for neuromusculoskeletal pain which is what was brought her into the office.

She was treated with very gentle osteopathic manipulation which not only eliminated all of her complaints ( including pins and needles in her right arm) but also rearranged her body so that she no longer had such a leg length imbalance.

Osteopathy has much to offer such patients.

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