News that Robert Redford has directed a movie about a building named after Polio vaccine developer Jonas Salk is a timely reminder that while Polio touched the lives of millions, including stars like Redford, the sting in the tale is the late effects Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), developed by thousands of ordinary people in the UK who remain in need of support.
Redford had a brush with Polio aged 11 and he is not alone. For 75 years since its inception in 1939, The British Polio Fellowship has been supporting people and it’s easy to forget Salk’s vaccine was an event of global significance in the fight for Polio eradication, which up to the 60s had seen every ‘cure’ from electric shock therapy to cobra venom considered.
Redford said, “I was around when the polio epidemic was still a threat. I had a mild case of it myself when I was 11 years old and fortunately it was mild enough not to cause me any real damage. Polio was part of the picture so when Jonas Salk invented the vaccine, it was just earth-shattering news.”
Over 120,000 ordinary people in the UK living with PPS have not been so lucky. Fellowship members know only too well what this terrible disease can do. PPS is a neurological condition characterised by weakness, fatigue and pain. Difficult to diagnose, there is also no test for it.
Redford’s Cathedrals of Culture film reminds us Polio has been part of human culture so long, it is our history and sadly, remains a living one. Fortunately, The British Polio Fellowship is here. For Polio survivors facing PPS, to those in the Asian community living with Polio, or medical professionals seeking information we are a call or a click away. Visit www.britishpolio.org.uk or call us on 0800 043 1935.