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Angela Prati

Poliomyelitis Care and Recovery Centre

Poliomyelitis is a serious infectious disease caused by three types of polio-virus that invade the central nervous system and, within a few hours, destroy the affected neural cells, causing paralysis that can become, in the most severe cases, total.

Although it has been around since ancient times, it was mainly in the first half of the 20th century that, due to a series of coincidences, the virus - which is mainly transmitted via the oropharynx - spread throughout the world, leading to a drastic increase in outbreaks and mainly affecting children under five to six years of age.

The terrible paralysing effects - as well as urging the scientific world to develop efficient vaccines - had important repercussions on the perception of disability both among the population and within the medical community: since there was no cure for polio, in the same years as the pandemic outbreaks the focus shifted to rehabilitation therapies, and thanks also to medical philanthropy, centres specialising in the treatment of symptoms and complications were set up.

The 'Professional Rehabilitation Institute for Poliomyelitis' in Compresso, Perugia, was founded in 1959 and closed - presumably - in 1973.