America Needs Another Jonas Salk–Happy 100th Birthday Dr. Salk

judy-polio-fundraisingToday, October 28, is the 100th birthday of Dr. Jonas Salk, whose 1955 polio vaccine eventually eradicated this crippling disease in the United States. Google is saying thank you to Dr. Salk today through their search engine doodle.  Between 13,000 and 20,000 polio cases occurred annually before the vaccine. Within 10 years of Salk’s vaccine, that number dropped to 61 cases a year.

My mother, Judy Travis Hampton, was a polio survivor. She is pictured here with my grandmother, Kathryn Travis. They attended a 1950s era Little Rock basketball game, where fans donated money for polio research.

As a preschooler, Judy woke up one morning and couldn’t move her arm. Alarmed, her mother Kathryn called their physician.

Fearing the contagious nature of polio, the doctor told Kathryn to bring Judy through the back door of his office to avoid other patients. He then confirmed that Judy had polio.

Enduring bed confinement and quarantine, she eventually resumed normal activities while also attending physical therapy sessions at the local pool. Though she couldn’t lift her right arm above elbow-level, she went on to live a normal, productive life and became a teacher, wife, mother, and avid quilter. She was lucky. Some polio survivors, such as President Franklin Roosevelt, were unable to walk.

In May 2014, Judy died of Parkinson’s, a debilitating disease that affects the central nervous system, the same system that polio targeted. Her Parkinson’s case was likely worse and more aggressive because of the damage left by polio.

Earlier this month, Ann Romney, the wife of former Massachusetts Governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney, announced the Ann Romney Center for Neurological Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. This work is important. America needs another “Jonas Salk” to find more effective treatments and cures for diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Multiple Sclerosis, and brain cancer.

Jane Hampton Cook is the award-winning author of eight books, including her newest America’s Star-Spangled Story and American Phoenix.

About Jane Hampton Cook

Author Jane Hampton Cook is known for making history memorable and relevant to today’s news, current events, and modern-day life. A frequent guest on the Fox News Channel and other outlets, Jane is the author of eight books, including American Phoenix, America's Star-Spangled Story, and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Revolutionary War. Jane is also a former White House webmaster. She lives with her husband and three young sons in Fairfax, Virginia.
This entry was posted in History, Medical and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s