As the final countdown to the National Indoor Games hosted by The British Polio Fellowship in Leicester (14-16 March) begins, news that the length of time to confirm a diagnosis of Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), a debilitating neurological condition, can take an average of six years is anything but a game.
After a long time without any significant change in their condition, up to 80% of people who contracted Polio in earlier life can develop new or increasing muscle weakness and pain, swallowing and breathing problems and chronic fatigue known as PPS. Due to the lack of a timely diagnosis than can help prevent further deterioration, many suffer in silence for an average of six years before they receive the necessary help.
“Despite the perception that Polio is consigned to the history books, it continues to be a very real health issue, with PPS affecting some 120,000 people in the UK, some of whom will be competing at the games,” said Ted Hill MBE, CEO of The British Polio Fellowship. “A survey undertaken in 2013 revealed that despite being as common as Parkinson’s disease, awareness amongst GPs of a fellow neurological condition like PPS is low and has left a forgotten generation of Polio survivors struggling for diagnosis and publicity around the games is one of the ways we can raise the issue.”
The 75th Anniversary year of The British Polio Fellowship is an opportunity for the charity to raise awareness with the public and GPs and health professionals in particular on Polio and PPS. The 2013 survey revealed 69 per cent of GPs rated their knowledge of PPS as low and 42 per cent said they would feel the need to refer a suspected PPS case to a neurologist for diagnosis; an acknowledgment that more awareness of the condition is needed across the primary medical community.
Held at the Leicester Marriott Hotel every year, the games allow 140 disabled competitors living with the late effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) drawn from regional heats throughout the UK to compete for the medals on offer. Competitors compete in nine different indoor sports, all specifically tailored for those with physical disability.
The nine games played will be: Kurling; Bowls; Darts; Boccia; Draughts; Cribbage; Dominoes; 5s and 3s and Scrabble, with medals up for grabs in all categories and competition extremely fierce.
“The games provide an essential outlet for members living with the late effects of Polio and PPS to compete and remains the most eagerly anticipated event in the charity’s social calendar,” added Ted. “The games give people from across the country the opportunity to socialise, share experiences and tips with fellow Polio participants. Paralympian heroine and Team GB athlete Anne Wafula Strike will be presenting the medals this year and we are all looking forward to it.”
Now in their 12th year in Leicester, the Indoor Games has a long history and the Marriott Hotel has become to participants what the Crucible in Sheffield is to Snooker players. The event has always been backed by the local community, with Keith Vaz MP calling in last year to lend his backing.
The British Polio Fellowship is a charity dedicated to helping, supporting and empowering those in the UK living with the effects of Polio and PPS. It provides information, advocacy, welfare and support to enable its members to live full independent and integrated lives and works to develop worldwide alliances with other Polio and Post Polio groups for the mutual benefit of its members. It is thought that around 120,000 people in the UK are living with the effects of Polio or PPS today.
For more details please contact The British Polio Fellowship on 0800 043 1935, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the new website at www.britishpolio.org.uk.