About Englewood Hospital and Medical Center


2010 Press Releases

Contact:  Sandra Sgambati      

Wallet-sized card warns of anesthesia dangers in polio survivors and educates about Post-Polio Sequelae.

Englewood, NJ, January 4, 2010 –  The New Jersey Department of Health has printed and distributed 10,000 wallet-sized cards with vital information on anesthesia dangers in polio survivors and on Post-Polio Sequelae, a disabling condition affecting New Jersey’s 50,000 polio survivors. Created by Dr. Richard Bruno, Director of the International Centre for Post-Polio Education and Research at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, the yellow, double-sided card was suggested by the Ocean County post-polio support group to comply with New Jersey Senator Loretta Weinberg’s 2004 “Post-Polio Sequelae Public Awareness” bill.

“Doctors have forgotten about North America’s nearly two-million survivors of the polio epidemics of the 1940s and 1950s,” said Dr. Bruno, who is also chairperson of the International Post-Polio Task Force.  “Because of damage the poliovirus did to the stem of the brain, polio survivors are easily sedated and often get too much anesthesia.”  Bruno has seen polio survivors end up on a ventilator in intensive care after minor surgery or even a colonoscopy.

The New Jersey DOH card features a prominent, red “ANESTHESIA WARNING!” and lists easy sedation and difficulty breathing and swallowing as problems that can be avoided by using lower doses of anesthetics in polio survivors.  The card also lists increased sensitivity to cold and pain as post-operative problems in polio survivors.

“The poliovirus kills neurons in the brain and spinal cord that produce the body’s own morphine,” Dr. Bruno explained.  Dr. Bruno’s research has found that polio survivors are twice as sensitive to pain as those who didn’t have polio. He recommends a general rule of thumb for treating polio survivors—“The Rule of 2”: two times the usual amount of pain medication for two times as long, and the usual amount of anesthesia divided by two.

“All doses of medication must be adjusted for individual polio survivors,” Dr. Bruno cautioned.  “And, polio survivors should never have same-day surgery because of excessive sedation from even appropriate doses of anesthesia.”


The flip side of the DOH card lists the “late-effects of polio,” called Post-Polio Sequelae, overwhelming fatigue, muscle weakness, muscle and joint pain, sleep disorders, cold intolerance and breathing and swallowing difficulties that can develop in midlife.

“Doctors are also unaware of Post-Polio Sequelae, or say that they ‘don’t believe’ in PPS,” said Dr. Bruno. “PPS is very real and very treatable if polio survivors can reduce the ‘overuse-abuse’ of their remaining, overworked poliovirus-damaged neurons.”

Groups may request cards by going online to NJ.gov/health/feedback.shtml.  More information about anesthesia concerns and Post-Polio Sequelae can be found at PostPolioInfo.com.

International Centre for Post-Polio Education and Research
Englewood, New Jersey  07631  USA
877-Post-Polio   201-894-3724

About Englewood Hospital and Medical Center
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center provides patients with the highest level of compassionate care through a broad range of state-of-the-art clinical programs and the most advanced treatments and diagnostic services. It is renowned for its bloodless medicine and surgery program, cardiac and vascular programs and its leadership in breast care, oncology and joint replacement services. Through its affiliation with the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the Mount Sinai Consortium for Graduate Medical Education, this thriving, acute-care and community teaching hospital trains medical residents in a variety of disciplines, including surgery, pediatrics, podiatry, pathology and critical care medicine.  Englewood Hospital is home to a Vascular Fellowship Program that has trained a generation of world-class vascular surgeons.  Additionally, many members of the medical staff at Englewood Hospital serve as faculty members at Mount Sinai. Englewood Hospital has earned numerous accreditations from the Joint Commission and other organizations and is among the four percent of hospitals nationwide honored with the prestigious Magnet nursing award, a distinction that has been earned twice by its nursing staff.