Franklin D. Roosevelt's paralytic illness

Franklin D. Roosevelt's Paralytic Illness

Franklin D. Roosevelt's paralytic illness

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Franklin D. Roosevelt's paralytic illness began in 1921 at age 39, when Roosevelt got a fever after exercising heavily at a vacation in Canada. While his illness was well known during his terms as President of the United States, how debilitated he was due to his illness was kept from public view. After his death, his illness and paralysis became a major part of his image. He was diagnosed with poliomyelitis two weeks after he fell ill. However, a 2003 retrospective study favored a diagnosis of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Timeline and history of illness

In August 1921, at the age of 39, while vacationing at Campobello Island in Canada, Roosevelt contracted an illness characterized by fever; protracted symmetric, ascending paralysis of the upper and lower extremities; facial paralysis; bladder and bowel dysfunction; numbness; and dysesthesia. The symptoms gradually resolved except for paralysis of the lower extremities.

August 9


  • Roosevelt fell into the cold waters of the Bay of Fundy while boating.


August 10


  • Roosevelt went sailing on the Bay of Fundy with his three oldest children, put out a fire, jogged across Campobello Island, and swam in Lake Glen Severn and the Bay. Afterward, he felt tired, complained of a "slight case of lumbago"Gallagher, HS, FDR's Splendid Deception, New York, Dodd, Mead (1985), and had chills. He retired early. Chills......
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