MEER | Guillain-Barré Syndrome
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Guillain-Barré Syndrome


Introduction to Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a disease in which the peripheral nerves (those outside the brain and spinal cord) become inflamed and stop working. This causes weakness of the muscles in the arms, legs, face and those responsible for breathing.

Meer PT provides rehabilitation for patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome following their discharge from hospital. The aim from physiotherapy is maximizethe patient potential to make a full recovery. Recovery times are variable ranging from two weeks to two years. Some individuals may never return to their full previous level of function.

Our neurological physiotherapists realize that Guillain-Barré syndrome affects everyone differently and every patient has different rehabilitation goals. Our physiotherapists can provide home based exercise programs, specialist gym based rehabilitation programmers and, hydrotherapy treatments to achieve their goals.

What is Guillain-Barré Syndrome? Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an acute disease of the peripheral nervous system causing the nerves in the arms and legs to become inflamed and stop working. This causes sudden weakness, limb paralysis, loss of sensation, speech and swallowing difficulties, and sometimes pain. Patients often require treatment on an intensive care unit as the muscles required for breathing also become weak.

GBS affects approximately 1500 people each year in the UK. It canaffect anyone and is not hereditary or contagious. The exact cause of GBS is unknown but many patients suffer from infections, influenza or stress prior to the onset of the symptoms of GBS.

A total recovery is made by approximately 80% of patients. Patients often spend up to three months in hospital and then recover over the following year. Approximately 15% of patients do not recover completely and have residual weakness, reduced sensation and pain. A few patients are unable to resume their normal occupation. Modern medicine makes death from GBS rare but it occurs in approximately 5% of cases, usually in the elderly.

Effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome

The initial symptoms of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) are usually numbness and tingling in the fingers and toes with increasing weakness in the arms and legs over the following days.  In the mild cases of GBS, the progression of weakness ceases at this point causing moderate difficulty in walking, requiring the use of a walking aid. In other cases the weakness continues to progress and causes a complete paralysis of the legs and the arms can also be affected.

In approximately 25% of cases the weakness progresses to the chest and the patient is unable to breathe independently and requires ventilation in an intensive care unit. The nerves supplying the throat and face muscles may also be affected making swallowing impossible.

Physiotherapy  treatment  for Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) should start in hospital and continue until you have reached your maximum potential. Meer PT is able to provide physiotherapy assessments and treatment as soon and as often as you require.


Physiotherapy for Guillain-Barré syndrome can:

Increase muscle strength

Increase mobility

Increase balance

Retrain normal patterns of movement

Increase energy levels

Assist in return to previous activity levels

Educate about GBS and symptoms

Physiotherapy treatment can consist of:

  • ‘Hands on’ physiotherapy
  • Home based exercise programmers
  • Specialist gym based rehab programmers hydrotherapy
  • Meer PT can also give advice regarding walking aids and equipment to speed up your recovery and make you home or work life easier.
  • Our physiotherapists can maximize your recovery and help you achieve your goals.