Greater awareness has been urged among family doctors of a debilitating neurological condition almost as common as Parkinson’s.

The British Polio Fellowship has found that awareness of Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) is “perilously low” among British GPs, leading to a “forgotten generation” of polio survivors who are struggling to have their symptoms properly diagnosed.

The Fellowship found that 69 per cent of GPs said their level of knowledge of PPS was “low”, while just over two fifths said they would have to refer any suspected PPS case on to a neurologist.

According to the fellowship, the incurable condition affects 120,000 people in the UK - most of them aged 50 and above. The prevalence rate is 190 per 100,000 peoplecompared with a Parkinson’s rate of 180 per 100,000.

PPS can affect as many as 25-50 per cent of people who have previously contracted poliomyelitis after the initial infection.

Symptoms including fatigue, pain and weakness in the muscles can appear as many as 30 years after the initial paralytic attack, or even after non-paralytic polio. One famous PPS sufferer was the late science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke.

Ted Hill, chief executive of The British Polio Fellowship, said: “The survey responses have reinforced our members’ feedback that GP awareness is low and that we need to work harder than ever to raise the profile of PPS. It is essential that more information is made available to GPs about PPS to enable them to make informed decisions.

“Not only because of the direct effect that this devastating neurological condition has on a patient’s quality of life, but because PPS can significantly impact on the success of treatment pathways selected to treat other health issues which the patient may be experiencing.”

According to the World Health Organization, PPS is classified as a central nervous system disease that is “an irreversible and incurable clinical situation in relation to the progressive dysfunction of the motor units”.

<> (Primary Care)