Coping with a Second Disability

Implications of the Late Effects of Poliomyelitis for Occupational Therapists

Mary T. Westbrook*, Lynette McDowell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


The long term effects of many physical disabilities have only recently begun to be appreciated. For people who have lived for years with what they thought to be stable conditions, the onset of secondary disabilities may be associated with considerable problems and distress. A questionnaire survey of 324 people with poliomyelitis revealed the occurrence of late effects in 94% of respondents. The majority reported increased weakness, pain and fatigue, problems in carrying out daily living activities and difficulties in obtaining appropriate health care. Although occupational therapists were less likely to be consulted than other professionals, they received one of the highest satisfaction ratings from clients. Discussion of case studies indicates ways in which occupational therapists can provide symptom relief and enable clients to maintain valued roles. As the survival rates of people with disabilities increase there is a need for greater awareness of, and research into, the late effects of disability. 1991 Occupational Therapy Australia Limited

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-91
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • occupational therapy
  • physical disabilities
  • poliomyelitis
  • rehabilitation

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