Dr. Lauro Halstead, was introduced to approximately 70 members and guests assembled in the Dickerson Room of the Deaconess-Glover Hospital in Needham on October 19, 1997. Dr. Halstead is Director, Post-Polio Program at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C. He had attended a medical conference in Cambridge the day before, and very kindly arranged for a later flight back to Washington in order to address our group.
He spoke of current research into the original onset of polio which has shown that the polio virus enters the polio virus receptors near the muscles and then travels up the axon pathways to the spinal column where it attacks the anterior horn cells, a process just the reverse of what was thought originally.
Researchers are also investigating the effects of exercise on the muscles of nerve-damaged rats which could shed some light on persons who are experiencing post-polio syndrome. Dr. Halstead indicated that the goal of exercise is the maintenance of muscles, and recommended interval training - exercise for two minutes or so, for example, and then rest for the same period.
There are medications which may help fatigue such as amantadine, growth hormones, Mestinon and nerve growth factors, but more research is needed to determine benefits and side effects.
He assured the audience that the prognosis is favorable for most of us since PPS is a benign disorder. We lose strength at a rate of about 1% to 2% per year, but proper use of assistive aids improves those percentages. After a question and answer period, Dr. Halstead left for the airport.
The membership approved an amendment to the By-Laws which expands the scope of the GBPPA Special Assistance Fund to include grants for health care services connected with PPS in addition to assistive devices.
The following were then elected to the Board of Directors: Betty Anderson, Fred Bowers, Paula Brown, Ali Buckley, Elaine Burns, Jim Dougan, Anne Harpin, Barbara Johnson, Fred Pearson, Pat Prell, Joel Samuels and Doreen Smith.
The following officers were also elected: President, Elaine Burns; Vice-President, Betty Anderson; Treasurer, Doreen Smith; Secretary-Clerk, Fred Bowers.
The meeting was followed by socializing and the partaking of excellent refreshments.