No Such thing as Post-Polio Syndrome?
A Doctor's Comments Refuted

From Posts to the Post-Polio-Med Email List With Permission From
Richard Bruno, M.D., Henry Holland, M.D. and Eddie Bollenbach

Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 10:17:25 EST
From: Harvest Center
Subject: No such thing as PPS!

>> Sigh. My mother, bless her heart, gave me a new book (4/98) that mentions PPS and "how to treat it effectively." It is titled, "The Mindbody Prescription," by Dr. John E. Sarno.

Dr. Sarno describes TMS - Tension Myositis Syndrome - as a cause of pain. In other words, pain caused primarily by emotions. He advocates treating pain without drugs, physical therapy, or surgery.

OK, fine. So, what about PPS? Quoting from pg. 81:

"In recent years something called the post-polio syndrome has received a lot of attention. It refers to people with residual leg weakness from childhood poliomyelitis who experience increasing weakness as they get older, along with pain in the buttock and legs. Increasing weakness was medically documented years ago as a common occurrence in people who had poliomyelitis. The pain is a new phenomenon, hence the creation of a new syndrome. In the patients I have seen with this problem the pain is due to TMS, no doubt engendered by the fear and frustration associated with increasing weakness. The pain is not part of the poliomyelitis. "

Here is another example of failure to recognize the presence of TMS and the creation of a new clinical entity as a consequence. Thirty years ago I worked with many post-polio patients who were suffering the distressing experience of increasing weakness. PPS was not in vogue then as it is now and they had no accompanying pain - so there was no post-polio syndrome. I tried to help them adjust to their loss of strength, sometimes with assistive devices, but always with a lot of support and advice."

Well, as I sit here - in some pain - it's a tad disconcerting to read Dr . Sarno's statements. I spent all my energy cooking for myself, cleaning my house, etc. My life had been drastically diminished...and now I find out that it's all in my head.

Just wondering how many employers and doctors will read the book. I feel that I've had to struggle for the past seven years not only with pain and fatigue, but also with an under educated medical community. After all our slow and painful progress toward recognition (forget funding!) this book is published with infomation that I can only view as a set-back. On the other hand if Sarno is right, I guess this means that people all over the world who have PPS/PPMA and do not know about post-polio will never feel any pain from it. Geeeeeeeez. Must be nice. >>

Yes, Kathryn, it must be nice! Here's another medical "magic bullet" Theory of Everything. I wonder if cancer pain, arthritis pain and cardiac pain are alsoTMS?? Maybe if you don't tell someone they've had a heart attack their chest won't hurt?

I wouldn't worry too much about employers and doctors reading the book and setting back PPS. The truth IS out there!

Be well,


Dr. Richard L. Bruno
Chairperson, International Post-Polio Task Force
and Director, The Englewood Hospital's Post-Polio Clinic
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center
Englewood, New Jersey 07631
Phone: (201) 894-3724 Toll Free: 1-877-POST-POLIO Fax: (201) 894-0324

Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 16:54:06 EST
From: Henry Holland Henry4FDR@AOL.COM
Subject: Re: No such thing as PPS!

I appreciate Dr. Bruno's words above. I have spent a considerable portion of my career in psychosomatic medicine from the psychiatric perspective. I believe there is general acceptance in the medical community that the human mind (brain) and body (soma) are interwoven with each other. Whether it be the cardiovascular, central nervous, or hormonal systems for example, all affect mind and body. If one is successful in making simplistic claims about this mind/body phenomenon, then fame and gain can result. Oversimplification is always appealing. Sometimes, well meaning people can write something positive that becomes very popular. For example, in the fifties, Norman Vincent Peale wrote The Power of Positive Thinking. This book was a best seller for a long time. Currently, John Gray has written a very popular book entitled Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. This book is appealing and somewhat entertaining. However, in my opinion, these two examples tend to simplify areas that are very complex in theology and psychology. The same can occur in medicine. Many things happen in medicine are difficult to explain. The one approach that has proven of value in finding understanding and validation is the scientific method. It was the scientific method that developed the Salk and Sabin vaccines. It will be the scientific method that will eventually conquer HIV.

Every one should know that bad things can happen to the body as a result of mental stress and vice versa. For example, most of us know that duodenal ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colitis, migraine headaches, tension vascular headaches, asthma, and systolic hypertension, to name a few, can be greatly affected by emotional stress. I believe that PPS falls into this category of mind/body complexity. If we find methods in both areas to improve our lot with PPS, we will likely feel better. This might include prescription medications, non prescription medications (herbs, supplements, nutrients, vitamins), appropriate physical therapy, water therapy, bracing, canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, scooters, magnets, acupuncture, healing touch, dietary changes, massage, counseling, psychotherapy, yogi, support groups, sharing on the Internet, individual research through reading, committed prayer, and even sex (as a shrink, I just had to include libidinal therapy which is good for mind and body). The simplest of treatments for us is rest, but to truly rest we need to work through our acceptance of our need to make life style changes. Without this acceptance, our rest will be tormented, guilt ridden, anxiety laden, and add to our mind/body stress.

In conclusion, PPS is a multifaceted disorder. I know and you know that what is happening to us is not a matter of mind over body. It is a matter of human cells dysfunctioning for probably several or many reasons. I hope most of us live long enough to understand better.


Dr. Henry Holland
Central Virginia Post-Polio Support Group

Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 17:43:37 -0500
From: "Eddie Bollenbach"
Subject: Re: No such thing as PPS!

I strongly endorse everything Henry Holland wrote. I suggest that anyone who comes into contact with Dr. Sarno ask him for empirical evidence. As Henry said, PPS s a multifaceted multidemensional disease (as most other diseases are) that involve interactions and feedback systems from both mind and body. I just wish Holistic medicine didn't constantly get a bad rap from people who do everything but consider the whole. It looks like taging disorders as Mind based is what gains the popular culture's attention.

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