Journal Article
Systematic Review
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Treatment for postpolio syndrome.

BACKGROUND: Postpolio syndrome (PPS) may affect survivors of paralytic poliomyelitis and is characterised by a complex of neuromuscular symptoms leading to a decline in physical functioning. The effectiveness of pharmacological treatment and rehabilitation management in PPS is not yet established.

OBJECTIVES: To review systematically the effects of any treatment for PPS compared to placebo, usual care or no treatment.  

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the following databases on 1 October 2010: Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Specialized Register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO and CINAHL Plus from inception to September 2010.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised and quasi-randomised trials of any form of pharmacological or non-pharmacological treatment for people with PPS. The primary outcome was self-perceived activity limitations and secondary outcomes were muscle strength, muscle endurance, fatigue, pain and adverse events.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently selected eligible studies, assessed risk of bias and extracted data.

MAIN RESULTS: Nine pharmacological (modafinil, intravenous immunoglobulin, pyridostigmine, lamotrigine, amantadine, prednisone) and three non-pharmacological (muscle strengthening, rehabilitation in a warm climate (i.e. temperature ± 25°C, dry and sunny) and a cold climate (i.e. temperature ± 0°C, rainy or snowy), static magnetic fields) studies were included in this review. None of the included studies was completely free from any risk of bias and the most prevalent risk of bias was lack of blinding.There is moderate quality evidence that intravenous immunoglobulin has no beneficial effect on activity limitations and there is inconsistency in the evidence for effectiveness on muscle strength and pain. Results of one trial provide very low quality evidence that lamotrigine might be effective in reducing pain and fatigue, resulting in fewer activity limitations. Data from two single trials suggest that muscle strengthening of thumb muscles (very low quality evidence) and static magnetic fields (moderate quality evidence) are beneficial for improving muscle strength and pain, respectively, with unknown effects on activity limitations. Finally, there is evidence varying from very low quality to high quality that modafinil, pyridostigmine, amantadine, prednisone and rehabilitation in a warm or cold climate are not beneficial in PPS.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Due to insufficient good quality data and lack of randomised studies it is impossible to draw definite conclusions on the effectiveness of interventions for PPS. Results indicate that IVIG, lamotrigine, muscle strengthening exercises and static magnetic fields may be beneficial but need further investigation.

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