Literally translated: grey inflammation of the spinal cord.
The viruses which can give rise to this infectious disease mainly cause inflammation of the motoric anterior horn cells of the spinal cord responsible for the muscle functions. The anterior horn cells are grey in colour.
Damage to muscles and skeleton.
Depending on the extent of the damage to the anterior horn cells in the spinal cord more or less muscles are affected by an atonic paralysis. In serious cases the whole body and the respiratory musculature can be impaired.
Typical symptoms are atonic, asymmetric paralysis in the legs, trunk and up to the arms. The musculature atrophies and becomes thin. If contracted during childhood the members affected are subject to retarded growth resulting in a shorter leg and/or arm on one side of the body. The trunk changes because the one-sided paralysis of the muscles gives rise to a scoliosis (curvature of the spine). Owing to unequal muscle tension joints can become distorted, scoliosis and other deformations. Without any strain on the bones osteoporosis (decalcification) may arise accompanied by an increased risk of broken bones.
Sensitivity (sensations) is retained, but circulatory disorders with violet discolourations, sweaty skin and cold, painful feet may occur.
The muscles affected can develop not or only little strength meaning that there is always an impairment of both movement and strength.
Long-term consequences of poliomyelitis:
As with other physical disabilities over the years long-term consequences of poliomyelitis arose, for example osteoarthritis and joint deformations. In addition aging processes occur, which are accelerated and enhanced by them. In addition to these, in the course of time the post polio syndrome occurs. New cases of myasthenia, pain general exhaustion and fatiguability, new breathing and swallowing problems limit the decimated capacity to move and apply strength even more than it already was.
Supplying a car:
Because the myasthenia generally affects one side more, arrangements for operating the accelerator and brakes and other control elements usually have to be geared for one-sided use. What type of steering means are appropriate for the person can only be established clearly by means of a test because of the different effects and manifold symptoms the disease contains. All aids are feasible from a normal steering wheel and a mini steering wheel up to the joystick. The restricted movements and the loss of strength in the parts of the body affected demand individual coordination and adjustment of the technical aids. This includes suitable steering equipment, the positioning or adaptation of the operating elements, support for the steering and braking forces, etc.
Frequently the transfer from a wheelchair to the driver's seat is no longer possible, making it necessary for the wheelchair to propel the person to the steering wheel.
If the post-polio syndrome occurs the capacity for movement and the strength ratio must be reassessed completely.