Andrea Duncan is an Occupational Therapist with an MBA who has worked in a variety of public and private health care settings. Andrea has maintained a core faculty position within the Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy program at the University of Toronto since 2001. Andrea is responsible for teaching MScOT students program development and program evaluation. She has also championed the unique and exciting role emerging fieldwork opportunities for students. Andrea’s research is focused on strategic business development for health care, health care market analysis, disability management, workplace wellness and knowledge translation in role emerging learning environments. Andrea is also a PhD student within the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation. In addition to her faculty roles, Andrea is a Principal Managing Consultant for Unicycle Consulting in which she supports organizations with strategic business development in the health care industry.
GROWING OLDER WITH POST-POLIO SYNDROME: SOCIAL AND QUALITY OF LIFE IMPLICATIONS
Poliomyelitis (polio) was one of the most notorious diseases of the 20th century, yet its impact and devastating consequences are a distant memory for many Canadians. Less commonly known and understood is Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS). PPS occurs after 20 to 40 years of stability in polio survivors and manifests as new weaknesses, central and peripheral fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, and atrophy of previously unaffected muscles. The interaction of disability and aging within a person with PPS is unique, as they experience early disability, a period of recovery and/or stability, and then new weakness occurs many years later. This research project aimed to understand what constitutes “quality of life” for individuals aging with post-polio syndrome. For this qualitative study, a focus group methodology with a grounded theory approach was used. Participants were recruited through Post-Polio Canada. Three separate focus groups occurred for a total of 24 participants. Participants ranged in age from 59 – 97. The focus groups were recorded, transcribed and coded using NVivo. The data was then analyzed for themes. A Social Ecological Model of Health was used to interpret the findings. Findings demonstrated that participants define quality of life as being able to engage in activities of daily living, even if it means with assistive devices or with support. Many participants shared that they struggle with declining physical health and mobility as compared to their aging peers who do not have PPS. In general, the participants reported significant hope and resiliency for their current life situation. Family members and friends were often reported as a source of support. Participants advocated that health professionals become more educated on PPS and how to provide care. A desire for more funding for home modifications and equipment, as well as support services was also referenced by participants. This research is important as it builds an understanding of the lived experience of an marginalized aging group. This research also informs health and social service systems required to support this unique population.