Polio & Post-Polio Syndrome

Poliomyelitis, better known as polio, is an infectious disease that was prevalent in the UK until a vaccine was discovered in 1950. The disease can cause flaccid paralysis if the virus enters the central nervous system. This paralysis may only be temporary and muscles are able to return to normal strength. However, if the paralysis is present 12 months following the infection, the paralysis is likely to be permanent.

For those people who do make a full recovery, there is a 25-50% risk of the individual developing similar symptoms of muscle weakness, or even new muscle weakness and extreme fatigue in adult life. This condition is described as post-polio syndrome (PPS). PPS is a progressive weakness for which there is no specific treatment. It is not, however, an infectious disease.

Because the first polio vaccinations were not introduced until 1955,post-polio syndrome is now becoming relatively common in patients who contracted polio in the 1940s and early 50s. According to the NHS that amounts to an estimated 120,000 people in the UK.  


Minor symptoms of the poliovirus include flu-like symptoms, nausea and vomiting. When the virus enters the central nervous system, symptoms include fever, lethargy and extremity pain. Approximately five in 1,000 cases lead to symptoms of paralysis, where muscles in the extremities become weak and floppy.



Individuals suffering from post-polio syndrome will have had a previous diagnosis of polio, a long interval after recovery and onset of gradual weakness. The diagnosis can be confirmed by electromyography and imaging.

If a diagnosis is confirmed, then the patient will undergo a neurological examination. This includes: analysing joint ranges of movement; joint stability; muscle strength; standing posture/alignment; and a gait/walking assessment.

In PPS, people can develop symptoms after a long time, without any significant change in their condition, people may develop new symptoms of increasing weakness, stamina problems, fatigue and pain.

Orthotic Treatment

An individual with post-polio syndrome will suffer from muscle weakness and decreased mobility. Often they will be affected in areas that were not previously affected. 

Commonly-used orthoses for treatment are ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) and knee ankle foot orthoses (KAFOs). These devices provide stability in stance and aid walking to improve energy efficiency and reduce pain. They are also designed to protect joints from abnormal forces.

At LOC, we only fit bespoke ankle foot orthoses. These are designed and manufactured based specifically on the individual’s requirements, following a detailed assessment and casting.

We can manufacture traditional devices, but the more modern orthoses offer more leg control. They can also be made in lighter weight materials, such as titanium and carbon fibre. In comparison to traditional callipers, these modern orthoses are about a third of the weight. That is very significant. It both reduces strain on the patient and increases mobility. We have found the resulting reduction in weight a huge benefit to our PPS patients.

If desired, we can also make hybrid designs, keeping the familiar design and fitting characteristics of conventional KAFOs, but using the new lighter materials.

Further information/links

The British Polio Fellowship offers great support and assistance to people in the UK with the late effects of polio and PPS.

The Fellowship is able to provide direct grants to polio members towards their mobility needs this is particularly so for members in the Kingston and Wimbledon areas that close by to the LOC Head Office and Manufacturing Centre. For full details of the BPF grants and other assistance available and for membership enquires please contact the Fellowship directly:

  • British Polio Fellowship
    The Xchange
    Wilmington Close
    WD18 0FQ

[email protected]
Freephone: 0800 043 1935
01923 281 090


We have the following facilities and amenities at our Kingston Upon Thames location:

  • Free parking
  • Wheelchair ramp
  • Disabled toilet
  • Baby changing facilities

We also have the Gait Laboratory for orthotics patients and Onsite Manufacturing for speedy turnarounds and adjustments whilst you wait.

We have the following facilities and amenities at our Cambridge location:

  • Free parking directly outside the clinic
  • Large Waiting Room
  • No Toys (Due to Health & Safety Requirements of the clinic)
  • Baby changing space (In clinic room)

For more information about The Beechwood Complementary Medical Practice, please visit The Beechwood Practice.

We have the following facilities and amenities at our Bristol location:

  • Free parking directly outside the clinic
  • Large Waiting Room
  • Free tea, coffee and water
  • No Toys (Due to Health & Safety Requirements of the clinic)
  • Baby changing space (In clinic room)
  • Fully wheelchair accessible
  • Short walk to Clifton Village centre for shops, restaurants & cafes

For more information, visit Litfield House Medical Centre.

LOC’s clinic is based in the University of Salford’s Podiatry Department and provides treatments for orthotics, scoliosis, pectus deformities, positional plagiocephaly and club foot.

It is also the base for LOC’s northern OSKAR clinic which is run by Sam Walmsley, clinical director of LOC, in conjunction with Elaine Owen MBE MSc SRP MCSP.

Due to COVID-19, we have had to temporarily close the Salford clinic and are operating out of another clinic in Bolton. 

508 Blackburn Rd,

Astley Bridge,




For more information, please visit The Good Health Centre 

An insole is a contoured orthotic device which alters the characteristics and biomechanics of the foot and ankle area. Biomechanics are concerned with mechanical laws and how they affect the living body, especially the musculoskeletal system.

They are removable devices, often made from plastic, that are designed to fit inside a shoe to provide additional support for your feet. As well as offering shock absorption, an insole can help distribute the weight of your body more effectively across the foot and can be made bespoke to cover a range of biomechanical conditions.

If you have symptoms in your feet, ankles, hips or your lower back that are intermittent or were not there to start with in early life, and have started to cause you pain over a period of time, bespoke orthotic insoles could be an excellent option.

If you have already tried rest, icing, compression and elevation and your feet have not recovered, we recommend a biomechanical assessment to consider the possibility of insoles. They are a non-invasive approach to treatment and in many cases, are a great option for symptoms that are not severe enough to warrant surgical intervention. Alternatively, they can be considered as an option prior to surgery.

We will send patients away when an insole is not appropriate, if a patient is suffering with iliotibial band syndrome for example, the problem can be helped with physiotherapy and a stretching programme. That’s what our biomechanical assessment is all about; determining whether there would be any benefit from altering the alignment of your feet.