An Answer in Michigan to One of the Most Common Complaints

You survived polio… or so you thought! You lived fairly normally for most of your life following your original battle with paralytic polio. Then, decades later, you were faced with increasing fatigue, pain in muscles and joints, and even worse, new and increasing muscle weakness leading to new disability. It is estimated that not quite half of paralytic polio survivors may experience these conditions later in their lives. In the early 1980’s the official medical terminology given to this sequence of events was post-polio syndrome (PPS.) While every case of PPS is quite individual, it is believed that one of the most consistently heard comment from polio survivors is “my doctor doesn’t understand what I am going through.” This can be explained by a steady decline in interest in polio issues over the years on the part of the medical community following the successful introduction of the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines. At that point the polio problem appeared to be solved in this country! Yet here you are with your new polio complications. What do you do?

Perhaps the best answer to that question would be to visit a multidisciplinary post-polio clinic for evaluation and proper care. Because of the individuality of symptoms of PPS leading to a wide breadth of problems, evaluating and treating these patients can be best accomplished by a team of physical and behavioral professionals. Unfortunately, the latest available statistics reveal that there are only 19 such post-polio clinics remaining in the United States and only 22 internationally. Yet, polio survivors in and around Michigan are blessed to have one of these highly experienced multidisciplinary post-polio clinics nearby. Dr. Daniel Ryan, M.D. and The Center for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Post-Polio Clinic are located in Warren, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.

After having previously treated numerous post-polio patients as part of his practice, Dr. Ryan, a physiatrist, in conjunction with a major local health system and the Michigan Polio Network, assembled a complimentary group of healthcare professionals and established his post-polio clinic. The clinic began seeing patients in 2001 and continues today. In addition to Dr. Ryan, Medical Director of the post-polio clinic, his team consists of an internal medicine physician, an orthotist, and a physical therapist. This clinic sees PPS patients by appointment on specific days each month. For the first visit, a new patient is individually evaluated by each member of the team who will confer with Dr. Ryan and together they discuss their observations. Dr. Ryan then meets with the new patient and formulates a treatment program which may include lifestyle modification recommendations and, if indicated, prescriptions for physical therapy, orthotics and medication. Imagine all of this taking place during one visit to one office on one morning

Following the new patient’s initial visit, a follow-up appointment will be scheduled with Dr. Ryan at which time the patient’s progress will be compared with the benchmark established during the initial visit. The patient will ordinarily have one or two follow-up appointments annually allowing for appropriate modifications to the patient’s program as his or her condition indicates.

During each visit to Dr. Ryan’s clinic, the polio survivor will be greeted in a welcoming environment by one or more members of the Michigan Polio Network, also polio survivors. These greeters are available to provide answers to non-medical PPS related questions as well as provide printed material and information.

Time and again, polio survivors who have visited Dr. Ryan’s post-polio clinic, beginning with the multidisciplinary intake visit and then scheduled regular follow-up visits, report very positive results in obtaining expert rehabilitation assistance. These patients find that they are much better able to deal with their declining function caused by PPS. Additionally, they have been able to establish reasonable individual expectations of capabilities and activities as they cope with advancing age.

To schedule your first visit to the Center for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Post-Polio Clinic, call (586) 778-4505.

For more information about Post-Polio Syndrome and the resources available, Read This!