Guillain Barre syndrome (GBS) is a very rare condition that affects the nerves. It only affects around 1 in every 100,000 people each year and is treatable. This autoimmune disorder also goes by the name Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy and Landry’s Ascending Paralysis. Because of its rarity, many people have never heard of this disorder, so today, we will discuss the symptoms and issues faced by those affected by GBS and treatments.

Symptoms of Guillain Barre syndrome

GBS is an autoimmune disorder; this means the immune system, whose job is to protect from foreign bodies, starts to attack normal cells. This can affect different areas of the body. With Guillain-Barré syndrome, early symptoms are –

  • Muscle weakness 
  • Difficulty maintaining balance
  • Problems with coordination 
  • Numbness or a pins and needles sensation 
  • Pain

Symptoms of Guillain Barre syndrome can progressively get worse over a period of weeks. You may notice increasing difficulty with walking as well as –

  • Difficulty talking or holding a conversation. 
  • Problems eating and swallowing food. 
  • Severe pain 
  • Problems with bowel and bladder movements
  • Sight issues like blurry vision or double vision
  • Difficulty breathing or catching your breath 
  • Paralysis 

Although GBS is treatable for most, it can have lifelong effects on the body and, in rare cases, can be life-threatening. Therefore, it is important to seek medical care as soon as you start experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. 

Issues GBS suffers face 

Although there is no cure for GBS, 70% of people will experience a full recovery with treatments such as plasmapheresis or Immunoglobulin therapy teamed with physiotherapy.

Patients start to suffer the effects and symptoms, which generally peak at four weeks. These symptoms affect your daily life, making it hard to function. Walking and standing for periods of time can be almost impossible for some. Aids are needed, such as shower chairs, walking frames and even wheelchairs. Some may need extra support from family and carers to clean, dress and prepare food. In worse cases of GBS, some are immobile and bed-bound for weeks. 

Up to 30% of people who are suffering the effects of GBS can have a residual weakness for up to three years after diagnosis. Hence, physiotherapy treatment is key to helping reduce that recovery period.

Treatment for GBS

As mentioned above, the two main treatments offered are plasmapheresis or Immunoglobulin therapy. Physiotherapy should start from the point of diagnosis to help maintain movement and strength. 

A physiotherapy treatment plan is tailored to each individual. Courses include strength and motion rehabilitation as well as rest periods and massage.

For more information on GBS and the treatments we offer, please get in touch today

Guillain Barré syndrome explainer graphic.
Guillain Barre syndrome illustration. Autoimmune illness with muscle weakness and tingling symptoms.