Fatigue and Functional Capacity in Persons with Post-Polio Syndrome: Short-term Effects of Exercise and Lifestyle Modification Compared to Lifestyle Modification Alone

Srishti Sanat Sharma, Megha Sandeep Sheth, Neeta Jayprakash Vyas


Purpose: Post-polio Syndrome (PPS) affects polio survivors many years after the initial attack, and causes new musculoskeletal symptoms and decline in physical function. This study aims to compare the effect of exercise and lifestyle modification versus lifestyle modification alone, on fatigue and functional capacity in persons with PPS.

Method: An experimental study was conducted at the physiotherapy department of VS Hospital in Ahmedabad. As per the criteria of Halstead (1985), 21 PPS subjects who were between 18 and 65 years of age, and able to walk indoors and outdoors, with or without assistive aids, were included. They were randomly allocated into 3 groups using the envelope method. Those with physician-diagnosed respiratory or cardiac insufficiency, disabling co-morbidity which interfered with the intervention programme or influenced the outcome, and those unable to cooperate due to cognitive impairment or use of any psychotropic drugs, were excluded. Fatigue and functional capacity were measured using Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) and 2-minute walk distance, respectively. Physical and psychological functions were assessed using Patient Reported Outcome Measurement Information System (PROMIS) questionnaire and Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) respectively. Intervention was given for 5 days a week, over 4 weeks. Group A received exercise and lifestyle modification, group B received lifestyle modification alone and group C continued their usual routine for 1 month.

Results: There was a significant difference in fatigue and functional capacity within groups A and B, with group A showing better reduction in fatigue than groups B or C. Physical function improved only within group A, and a significant difference was seen compared to groups B and C. Psychological function showed no difference within or between the groups.

Conclusion: There was improvement in fatigue, functional capacity and physical function in PPS subjects after 4 weeks of exercise and lifestyle modification. Lifestyle modifications alone for 4 weeks improved fatigue and functional capacity in PPS subjects. There is significant reduction in fatigue and improvement in functional capacity when lifestyle modification advice is given along with exercise.

Limitation: Long-term follow-up of the subjects was not undertaken, blinding was not possible, and confounders such as the number of body sites with residual paresis, duration and number of new neuro-musculoskeletal symptoms, and level of physical activity were not considered.


Physical function; psychological function; aerobic exercise; strengthening; activity pacing; energy conservation

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5463/dcid.v25i3.335


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