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Post Polio Sufferers Try Age-Old Mineral Bath Treatments

May 23, 2008
Somehow, everything old becomes new again. Mineral bath treatment, or balneotherapy, is certainly not new. Water immersion in spas has been practiced for centuries and the practice has many believers. For thousands of years, people in Europe sought out water cures for various ailments.

Recently, patients suffering from post polio syndrome "put history to the test" by trying mineral baths and massage to alleviate their symptoms.

Post polio syndrome is a condition that may develop several decades after a person had polio. Having the syndrome does not mean that the person has developed polio again.

Post polio syndrome is a very slowly progressing condition marked by long periods of stability. It is rarely life threatening. It is estimated that 25 percent to 40 percent of people who had polio during childhood will develop post polio syndrome 30 to 40 years later.

Many health care professionals know very little about the syndrome, since polio was virtually eliminated in the 1950s.

Symptoms include new muscle weakness, fatigue and pain. Muscles whose nerves were damaged because of polio are the same muscles that can weaken and waste away. People with post polio syndrome can develop weakness in muscles that they didn't realize were affected by polio. There is no cure for post polio syndrome. Treatment is aimed at controlling symptoms and learning new ways to stay active and productive.

Royal Oak resident Bill Pickett, founder of the southeastern chapter of the Post Polio Syndrome Support Group, contracted polio at 9 months old. He spent a month in an iron lung and his right leg was left paralyzed by the disease. Pickett recently volunteered to take part in treatments at St. Joseph Hospital's Bath Wing in Mount Clemens.

"It's another tool I can use," Pickett said of the mineral baths and massages, which are also available to the general public. A 30-minute mineral bath costs about $40, and a one-hour bath and massage package runs $75.

During a two-week period, Pickett tried daily mineral baths and six massages. He also used a mineral gel rub each day. The Birmingham-based AcheAway Corp., which manufactures the gel rub for at-home use, paid for the volunteers' treatments. AcheAway products are made from Mount Clemens minerals, but the products don't have the oily black film and sulfur smell that marked mineral baths of the late 19th century.

Pickett said the massages and baths offered some relief from his symptoms. After using crutches for 25 years and spending time at the computer keyboard, his hands were "worn out." Pickett said he has noticed improvement in his hands after using the treatments. He also noted improvements in sleep, and said he was able to reduce some of his medications while taking part in the experiment.

There are a few scientific studies measuring the benefits of mineral baths. However, none of the studies involved people with post polio syndrome.

Earlier this year, researchers studied patients using mineral baths at a European health resort.

The treatment resulted in improved circulation. In 2001, Russian doctors studied the effects of mineral baths on children with brain injuries.

The children received exercises, massage and baths. The doctors found that these treatments diminished the number and severity of symptoms. A two-week double blind study in Israel with people suffering from osteoarthritis in the knees found significant improvement at the end of the treatment.

Preventive efforts today are focused on wiping out polio. Problems with the oral polio vaccine, which used live polio virus, caused the United States Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to change its policy on polio vaccinations. It is now recommended that an inactive Polio Vaccine-only immunization schedule be followed.

Doctors recommend that polio survivors maintain standard healthy lifestyle practices, including consuming a well- balanced diet, exercising in moderation, and visiting a doctor regularly. The following lifestyle changes are considered the most beneficial: using energy-saving techniques, employing household help, buying special equipment, modifying the home, cutting back on work, and following a general conditioning exercise program.

There has been much debate about whether to encourage or discourage exercise for polio survivors or people with post polio syndrome.

AcheAway is the maker of AcheAway Gel Rub, Bath Salts and Massage Lotion, which all use the 34 Natural Minerals found in Mineral Water from Mt. Clemens, Michigan.

To find out more about AcheAway products, call 800-820-0220 or visit http://www.acheaway.com.

Birmingham-based AcheAway Corp. makes this gel rub made from Mount Clemens minerals. The products, being tested by post polio syndrome sufferers, don't have the oily black film and sulfur smell of mineral baths of the late 19th century.

Royal Oak resident Bill Pickett, pictured at home with wife Carol, contracted polio at 9 months old. He recently underwent treatments for polio survivors at St. Joseph Hospital's Bath Wing in Mount Clemens.
About the Author
Geologix Inc. manufactures products using a proprietary formula featuring 34 natural minerals contained in the ancient sea water from the famous Michigan Basin -- a concentration of minerals higher than that found in any known body of water in the world. Mineral Essentials focuses on spa, skin care, and massage products to moisturize and provide anti-aging protection for great skin. Mineral Essentials
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