16 December marked 100 years since the birth of science fiction writer, Arthur C Clarke, who contracted Polio in 1962. Polio returned in the form of Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) and led to Clarke’s death in 2008. The former Patron of The British Polio Fellowship would be concerned that three decades from his original diagnosis, we are still fighting to support 120,000 people in the UK with PPS – a neurological condition for which there is no cure and for which people still wait up to eight years for a diagnosis.
A common theme in Clarke’s writing, is the notion that evolution improves the lot of people generally; and while the battle to beat Polio has evolved over the last 30 years – as has the science and technology to help those with PPS – not enough see the benefits. Properly managed, PPS can be controlled, lessening the burden on the NHS, while good equipment and orthotics can dramatically improve patient quality of life.
2017 saw significant steps taken to raise awareness of PPS, with a BBC Lifeline Appeal and PPS Day at the Scottish Parliament. As British Polio approaches its 80th anniversary in January 2019, we don’t need strange powers to beat Polio and PPS; just the will to put an end to an Odyssey that has already gone on for far too long, to transform Polio from science fact into science fiction.
The British Polio Fellowship continues to raise awareness and offer support to those who are affected by PPS. If you want more information, contact the British Polio Fellowship on 0800 043 1935 or visit www.britishpolio.org.uk
Ted Hill MBE
CEO, The British Polio Fellowship