POLIOMYELITIS AND ITS MANAGEMENT IN THE HOSPITAL OF STARA GORA, SLOVENIA
In memoriam Dr Hilda Veličkov
In the years between 1956 – 1958 Slovenia faced a poliomyelitis epidemic in which around 400 people were affected, one tenth of them died, and a big part of the population was left with consequences of this disease and its long-lasting rehabilitation. From 1952 to 1962 the facility of Stara Gora offered shelter and physical rehabilitation with up-to-date treatments such as oscillation and minimal joint mobilisation, hydrotherapy, irradiation, and electrical stimulation to 1124 children. During this period 200 children suffering from poliomyelitis were admitted to a specialized ward. This number represented 18% of overall admissions, second only to congenital hip displacement. In 1957 a non-mandatory vaccination program started, which eventually became mandatory in 1964. The consequences of the poliomyelitis epidemic were very serious: 199 out of the 200 admissions were in need of medical rehabilitation. These patients had one of the longest average hospitalization times (376 days) and one of the lowest percentages of independent daily life activities after hospitalization (94 children out of 200, or 47%). Normally, the rehabilitation would start with hydrotherapy in warm water or irradiation with IR rays and progress to the ultimate treatment, electrical stimulation and walking exercises in front of a mirror to correct the posture and the limb movements.
Key words: Poliomyelitis; history of medicine; rehabilitation; infectious diseases; vaccines; Slovenia.