POLIOMYELITIS; an acute virus disease marked by inflammation of nerve cells of the spinal cord.
Poliomyelitis has probably existed since the dawn of mankind. It is a devastating, debilitating and often fatal disease, which, while it can be controlled by modern vaccines, is still a dreaded presence in many developing Nations.
During the middle of this Twentieth Century, the incidence of the disease reached epidemic proportions worldwide. Thirty - forty years later, those who had contracted polio during the epidemic years began to experience symptoms that couldn't be easily identified. In several European communities, and particularly in North America, polio survivors took their concerns to the medical profession. In time it was recognized that symptoms that resembled the onset of polio, along with muscle pain and fatigue were common among those who had contracted the disease 30 - 40 years earlier. This became commonly known as 'post-polio syndrome', or the late effects of polio.
During the 1980's, a strong Polio Network evolved in the United States. In November, 1988, a National Conference was to be held in Toronto. For most Canadians to attend a Conference in Toronto poses financial and other difficulties. Olga Bobiash approached the Saskatchewan Abilities Council, requesting them to sponsor two Sask. residents to the Conference. She would attend and make every effort to contact someone in the southern part of the Province to attend with her. Time was limited, and as no one else was free at that time, I went. Together we made tapes, took notes, and talked with others from all over North America. We found that some provinces were already starting Support Groups, and ideas were shared all around. Shortly after we returned to Saskatoon, we contacted as many post-polio persons as we knew, and set up the first meeting. Within a couple of weeks from that time, officers were elected. In due course, the association was named and incorporated, with branches being established throughout the province. Today, membership has reached about 200, with Branches in Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford, and Polio Regina Inc. Nipawin is planning to form a Branch.
The name, Saskatchewan Awareness of Post Polio says it all. The aim of the association is to heighten awareness and share information throughout the province, with 1) polio survivors , and 2) medical professionals. Our mailing list includes doctors and medical clinics in various fields. Our Newsletter "Sapplings" is distributed to all members, who are encouraged to share with others (eg family doctor).
The Sask. Abilities Council continues to provide support. Recently a computer was donated to S.A.P.P. by SaskPower, enabling us to access Saskatoon Free-Net. In addition, S.A.P.P. raises funds through memberships, donations and car raffles. In Saskatoon, members meet 10 times a year - at least two of those meetings being social events. In recent months, members listened to speakers on such topics as nutrition, circulation, foot care, and medical research. Recently, S.A.P.P. was able to sponsor a member to attend the Post Polio Conference in Montreal, and is involved in a hydra therapy program. The association is one of fellowship and positive action. Regular as well as Associate members are welcome to join.
Betty Sherdahl, Saskatoon, SK
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