J.M.Swüste, MD, F.Nollet, MD, PhD, A.Beelen, Msc, PhD, Prof G.J.Lankhorst, MD, PhD

Acute poliomyelitis is a viral infection of the gastro-intestinal tract. In 1% of all infected persons neurological complications occur, resulting in a wide range of muscle weakness, predominantly of the legs and disability in the domains of physical mobility, transport, work and household activities. A considerable amount of this poliomyelitis patients develop sequelae of poliomyelitis, i.e. new neuromuscular symptoms, such as new muscle weakness and fatigue. Little is known about the course of functional status and its determinants of patients with sequelae of poliomyelitis. Knowledge of functional course and its determinants is essential for the development of rehabilitation programs in elderly patients with sequelae of poliomyelitis.

The purpose of this research program is twofold: 1. to study the course of functional status in elderly patients with sequelae of poliomyelitis; 2. to identify determinants of future functional status in elderly patients with sequelae of poliomyelitis.

This observational cohort study with a follow-up of three years will be based on 150 patients with sequelae of poliomyelitis. Outcome measures are: perceived disability in physical activities, performance in physical activities and perceived quality of life. Potential determinants will include measurements of (a) patient characteristics, (b) clinical and disease characteristics, (c) physical impairments, (d) cognitive impairments, (e) comorbidity, (f) coping and emotional status, (g) social support/context, (h) fatigue, (i) treatments and use of rehabilitation services, (j) use of aids and devices. Multiple linear regression analysis and repeated measures analysis will be used.

The recruitment of patients started in June 2002; by June 2003 167 patients were included in the study.
This research is being carried out in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and the Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine (EMGO) at the VU University Medical Centre. This research is also being carried out within the framework of a major project in rehabilitation in the Netherlands: CARPA (Comorbidity and Aging in Rehabilitation Patients: the influence on Activities).

The CARPA project 
The CARPA projects consists of three interrelated studies on three different diagnose groups: sequelae of poliomyelitis, osteo-arthritis and Parkinson's disease. The programme is coordinated at VU University Medical Centre by Prof. J. Dekker.

Information VUmc  Janneke Swüste, MD, researcher