Guillain-Barré syndrome is an acute nerve inflammation that damages parts of the nerve cell. It may occur at any age, but is most common between the ages 30 and 50.
The exact cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome is unknown. It often follows a minor infection, usual a respiratory (lung) infection or gastrointestinal infection. Sometimes this syndrome arises after surgery or vaccinations,or with other medical problems such as systemic lupus erythematosus or Hodgkin’s disease.
Typical symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness or paralysis (the most common symptom) or uncoordinated movements
- Sensation changes, including numbness, decreased sensation, tenderness, or muscle pain
Other symptoms may include:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty moving one’s face muscles
- Clumsiness and falling
- Palpitations (sensation of feeling the heartbeat)
- Muscle contractions
Most people with Guillain-Barré syndrome recover completely, although some people continue to have mild weakness. The symptoms may be severe during the course of the disorder, and hospitalization may be needed to support breathing function, to prevent complications, and to provide physical therapy. Intravenous fluids or antibody-free plasma may also be given.
MedStar National Rehabilitation Network offers comprehensive, interdisciplinary inpatient and outpatient services for persons with Guillain-Barré syndrome. These services may include medical evaluation and care, rehabilitation nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, therapeutic recreation, rehabilitation engineering, vocational rehabilitation, social work, and psychology.