One of the consequences of ill health which can have the profoundest social and economic effect is a legacy of chronic and permanent disability. It may arise from many different disorders, and can take as many different forms as blindness, deafness, mental sub-normality or paralysis. Not only is each person disabled a unique individual, but each type of disability presents fundamentally different difficulties.
Thus a study of the effects of one form of disability is limited in scope, This report concerns those who have been permanently paralysed by poliomyelitis, The Office of Health Economics became interested in this disability when preparing the study on “The Price of Poliomyelitis”, published in 1963. With the help and co-operation of the British Polio Fellowship, it proved possible to mount a survey of members of the B.P.F. who had been disabled by polio.
The choice of this particular group of disabled people was, therefore, partly fortuitous, and partly based on considerations of practicability. The problems which it reveals, and the pattern of disability which it describes, are not necessarily representative of the many other groups of disabled persons in the community.
Currently, there is much interest in the development of community care. From the picture which emerges from this survey, it is clear that there is the need for “market research” to define the principal problems the disabled face in day-to-day life. This survey covers one small area. It is to be hoped that similar studies, covering other forms of disability, may follow.
Thanks are due to many engaged in the rehabilitation of and welfare of persons disabled by poliomyelitis for their help in conducting the survey especially to Mr. D.S. Powell, the General Secretary and Miss B.C. Nagel the Welfare Officer and staff of the British Polio Fellowship. Also to Mrs. Veronica Norburn of the Office of Health Economics for much other of the preparatory work on this report.
The greatest debt is owed to the many members of the British Polio Fellowship who responded so ably to the survey.