Polio survivor Joan and her husband, Graeme, are travelling from Victoria to add their voices to our Campaign in Canberra on Wednesday 29th October 2014. Joan contracted polio in Melbourne in 1952 when she was 3 years old.

What is a memorable childhood experience?

Extended stays in hospital as a young child, isolated from family, school holiday stays at Lady Dugan Red Cross Home in Malvern for rehabilitation, including new plasters, physiotherapy and splint adjustments, and being strapped into the Thomas splint every night until I was sixteen. There was no consideration of privacy or dignity in our treatment which made the whole process quite humiliating.

How have the late effects of polio impacted on you?

I was forced into early retirement at age fifty-one, and forced to move house for easier access (twice). I have had to return to using mobility aids – an ankle/foot orthotic and, for extended walks such as shopping centres or steeper inclines, a motorised scooter. I also experience chronic pain and significant fatigue.

Why are you going to Canberra?

We have to educate our politicians about the issues and needs of polio survivors today. Polio Australia funding is urgently needed to advocate and educate our medical providers, the wider community and even polio survivors ourselves, in order to obtain appropriate support to maintain as much independence as possible. Funding providers need to understand that while post polio syndrome occurs later in life it is not a normal part of ageing, and aged care assistance doesn’t cover the associated costs. It is an on-going and degenerative disability.

Please send Joan a message of support for her Canberra campaign by making a comment below.


Joan Smith ~ Polio 1952 ~ Canberra Campaign Hero — 1 Comment

  1. hi Joan I have just come across your post today, I am also Polio survivor and now suffer from post polio syndrome. Like you I have also had to go back into a splint however mine is a full length calliper, it has been an adjustment to say the least. I also suffer chronic pain and have just recently paid out around $4k to have gastric sleeve surgery to reduce my weight so as to hopefully help my situation. I would be interested to know how your Canberra trip went and what options we have open to us cost wise for care and items of need like calliopes, shoes and such. I look forward to hearing from you and I do hope you had some success.
    Cheers Wendy McNamara