Nats chats to Alan Hall about Post-Polio Syndrome

I remember my first association with polio was a vaccination given on a sugar cube.

But polio (Poliomyelitis) is anything but sweet – a highly infectious disease which attacks the motor neurons which can result in muscle weakness or even paralysis.

Thankfully, due to vaccinations, the infection was brought under control in the 1950s and 60s.

There are a number of polio survivors in the area and Alan Hall, 67, of King’s Lynn, is one of them.

But the retired lecturer has been left with Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS), which can cause fatigue, aches and pains,  muscle-wasting and weakness.

“I didn’t use crutches until I was in my forties,” said Alan who is married to Lynn.

“But with using them I now have trouble with my shoulders, they have been doing what my hips were supposed to do.”

At 11-months-old, Alan contracted polio and was left with damage to the right leg, but some years later his left leg deteriorated as it had been compensating for the other.

And Alan, who taught Travel and Tourism at Lynn’s College of West Anglia, believes there could be more polio survivors suffering in silence, unaware of link between the polio and its secondary symptoms.

Alan with some of the equipment he needs to manage in his day-to-day life. Picture: Tony Jones

In order to help with this, he is calling for polio survivors to contact the British Polio Fellowship, King’s Lynn branch.

The group offers welfare advice, support and social events for survivors, and regularly hires a hydrotherapy pool for its 25 members.

“We compare notes, we help each other out,” said Alan, leader of the group. “We talk about which cars are best to fit wheelchairs and cranes in. We have people that can help if anyone is having problems with their welfare.

“Members bond as having had polio is a good starting point. But then we go on to talk about other things and interests.”

Like many in my generation, I was often told polio was an illness which was ‘before my time’.

After my chat with Alan, I drove past  the beautiful crocus display for Purple4Polio campaign at  Lynn’s Southgate Roundabout – it was poignant reminder of how important support is for the condition in today’s times.

To find out more information about the British Polio Fellowship email