Guillain–Barré Syndrome (GBS) is an auto-immune disease of unknown origin. It often appears without warning and with variable severity. GBS affects the myelin sheath around your nerves which reduces the ability of the nerve to send impulses from your brain to your muscles. In mild cases, there may just be some weakness (usually starting in the hands and feet) and in severe cases, all muscles are paralysed, even the breathing muscles. After you have received the necessary medical treatment, the sheath around the nerves slowly regenerates and the impulses will start being able to reach your muscles so that you can move again. Some GBS sufferers make a full recovery while others have residual weakness which may affect their everyday life.
Neurological physiotherapy plays a significant role in people affected by GBS. Due to the varying degrees of severity, and the fact that recovery in very slow, GBS patients greatly benefit from neurological physiotherapy. Physiotherapy treatment will accelerate your recovery and help you reach your maximal level of functional independence.
Treatment will vary in intensity and structure depending on how severely you are affected but generally, the neuro physiotherapist’s goals will be as follows:
- Improve muscle strength and endurance as the nerve sheath heals
- Retrain normal movement patterns
- Improve balance in sitting, standing and walking
- Regain independence with everyday tasks
- Teach compensatory strategies to overcome reduced mobility
- Training and supporting family and care givers
- Advice on orthotics for dropped foot or feet (AFO)
- Home visits if necessary
At Rehabilita, Anne Knowles Physiotherapy, Roodepoort, Johannesburg, we have some specialised equipment that could benefit you:
- Therapeutic electrical stimulation (Reduce pain and build muscle strength)
- Functional Electrical Stimulation (help you walk if you have muscle weakness in the lower legs)
- Theratrainer Active passive exercise bike (assist you to turn the pedals if you would otherwise not be able to cycle, you can either try and build up muscle strength or just let the bike do the work and get the benefits of your legs being moved and stretched). You can also use it for arm strengthening as it has upper limb attachments.)
- Tilt Table (if you are wheelchair bound and would like to stand up, this piece of equipment will stand you up safely to get some weight through your legs with no effort required by the patient)
- Parallel bars (practice walking and balancing in a safe environment)
Recovering from GBS requires a lot of patience and determination. The more effort you put in to your rehabilitation, the greater the chances that you will recover well. Neurological physiotherapists will do their best to try help you achieve your goals and return to a normal life. We can do home visits if required.