Ground breaking research into the Late Effects of Polio continues in South Australia

Following the success of the Sarcopenia Project last year Dr Nigel Quadros and his associate Dr Kandiah Umapathysivam (Sivam) are recruiting people to participate in the second phase of the project. For more information please contact Dr Sivam phone: 0434991583 or email:

Sarcopenia and polio survivors

Sarcopenia is characterised by progressive and generalised loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength or function as we age.

Due to nerve cell loss after acute polio viral infection, it is likely that polio survivors live with sarcopenia at an earlier stage in life compared to the normal ageing population. Immobility-related underactivity is also likely to be a major contributor to sarcopenia in polio survivors.  While there is no reliable way to differentiate age-related sarcopenia from underactivity-related sarcopenia, both contribute to weakness, fatigue and loss of function.  This translates in daily life to having difficulty or being unable to do many simple activities such as walking, stair climbing, house hold chores, etc, a common phenomenon seen in the ageing polio survivor.  Previously, this functional decline has been called post-polio syndrome, however, in recent times it is referred as the late effects of poliomyelitis (LEOP).

The complications of LEOP and its relationship with sarcopenia need to be explored in polio survivors. The dilemma being, the norm for post-polio has been to advice against exercise but the most effective therapy thus far for sarcopenia is exercise.

About the research project

The research aims to improve the lives of people who experience LEOP by exploring if sarcopenia has a significant role.

By measuring muscle mass, strength and function the research aims to determine if these factors contribute to LEOP, in addition to the natural ageing process.    As well as reviewing current methods for management of sarcopenia such as exercise and nutrition to ensure healthy ageing and the best possible quality of life.

How it will help polio survivors

Developing methods to measuring sarcopenia in polio survivors can lead to develop methods to treat it.  The research will enable Rehabilitation Medicine Physicians in conjunction with your General Medical Practitioner to help provide holistic care for polio survivors in three ways:

Liaison with general practitioners, providing them with more information on LEoP and post-polio syndrome as well as advice on pain management, orthotic devices, exercise therapy etc.
Liaison with allied health practitioners with an interest in LEOP to provide specifically trained physiotherapist, occupational therapist, dieticians, psychologist, orthotists to devise individualised programs catering to the specific needs of the polio survivor.
Provide group therapy programs at private and public rehabilitation centres in SA.

Principal Investigators:

Dr Nigel Quadros, Senior Medical Staff specialist, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Phone: 82227322 email:

Dr Kandiah (Sivam) Umapathysivam, Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide Phone: 0434991583 email:

Associate Professor Dr Solomon Yu, Clinical Deputy Director, Aged & Extended Care Services (AECS),  The Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Associate Investigators:

Dr Anupam Datta Gupta, Senior Medical Staff Specialist Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Professor Renuka Visvanathan Director, Aged & Extended Care Services, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.