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Rehabilitation for Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare condition in which your immune system attacks your nerves. Although several types of the condition occur, in the United States, Guillain Barré syndrome most often affects the peripheral nerves that connect your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body.

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network is a leader in treating people diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome. Our experienced team of physicians and therapists helps you recover from the weakness, numbness and paralysis in legs, arms, face and breathing muscles caused by Guillain-Barré syndrome, getting you back to your life and community.

Types of Guillain-Barré syndrome

Once thought to be a single disorder, Guillain-Barré syndrome is now known to occur in several forms. The main types are:

  • Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP), the most common form in the U.S. The most common sign of AIDP is muscle weakness that starts in the lower part of your body and spreads upward.
  • Miller Fisher syndrome (MFS), in which paralysis starts in the eyes. MFS is also associated with unsteady gait.
  • Acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN) and acute motor-sensory axonal neuropathy (AMSAN) are less common in the U.S.

What are the signs and symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome?

Guillain-Barre syndrome often begins with tingling and weakness starting in your feet and legs and spreading to your upper body and arms. In about 10% of people with the disorder, symptoms begin in the arms or face. As Guillain-Barre syndrome progresses, muscle weakness can evolve into paralysis.

Most people reach the greatest stage of weakness within the first two weeks after symptoms appear; by the third week 90 percent of affected individuals are at their weakest.

Signs and symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome may include:

  • Difficulty with eye muscles and vision
  • Difficulty swallowing, speaking, or chewing
  • Pricking or pins and needles sensations in the hands and feet
  • Pain that can be severe, particularly at night
  • Coordination problems and unsteadiness
  • Abnormal heart beat/rate or blood pressure
  • Problems with digestion and/or bladder control.

What causes Guillain-Barré syndrome?

The exact cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is not known. Researchers don’t know why it strikes some people and not others. It is not contagious or inherited. 

What they do know is that the affected person’s immune system begins to attack the body itself. Guillain-Barre syndrome can happen to anyone, but it’s most common in people 50 years old or older.

When you have it, your immune system begins attacking your nerve cells. That weakens their ability to send signals to your brain. And your muscles then can’t respond to nerve signals. As a result, your brain gets fewer messages to your body.

Treatment for Guillain-Barré syndrome

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network is uniquely equipped to handle even the most severe cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Patients have access to a full team of rehabilitation and medical professionals including physiatrists, physical, occupational and speech therapists, pain specialists, and psychologists.

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