How Is Guillain-Barré Syndrome Treated?

While there is no known cure for Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), certain therapies can lessen the severity of the illness and expedite recovery. Plasma exchange (also called plasmapheresis, in which whole blood is removed from the body and processed to remove the plasma, followed by reintroduction of the red and white blood cells into the body) and high-dose immunoglobulin therapy are used to reduce the severity and duration of the GBS episode.

The most critical part of treatment for GBS involves keeping the patient’s body functioning during recovery of the nervous system. This can require placing the patient on mechanical ventilatory assistance, a heart monitor or other machines to aid bodily functions. Physical, occupational and speech therapies play an important role, both before and after recovery begins.

What Rehabilitation Services Are Available for Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

TIRR Memorial Hermann offers specialized rehabilitation to treat GBS, in both inpatient and outpatient settings, including:

  • Comprehensive management of rehabilitation needs by a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor
  • Evidence-based interventions to help patients gradually rebuild neuromuscular control
  • Patient and family training with adaptive devices, such as a wheelchair or braces; including portable ventilator that can attach to an electric wheelchairs, if needed
  • Speech therapy for patients who have trouble swallowing or talking
  • Psychological assessment and treatment for coping skills and to manage depression or anxiety
  • Recreational therapy and vocational counseling to help transition back to home and school or work

What Are the Benefits of Rehabilitation for Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

TIRR Memorial Hermann rehabilitation services help GBS patients to:

  • Gradually rebuild neuromuscular control
  • Overcome difficulties with swallowing or speaking
  • Minimize pain
  • Develop coping skills
  • Manage depression or anxiety
  • Transition back to home, school or work

What Is the Long-Term Prognosis for Patients With Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

Most patients with GBS make a full recovery, although recovery can take weeks, months or even years. About a third of these patients still suffer residual weakness after three years, and a small percentage (about 3 percent) may suffer a relapse of muscle weakness and tingling years after the initial attack.

Patient Stories

  • Oscar Rangel

    Oscar Rangel: Guillain-Barré Therapy

    August 6, 2013

    Leaving work one day, Oscar noticed his vision was strained in one eye. Over the next few days, Oscar lost vision in one eye and the ability to swallow and stand. He was admitted to a hospital and diagnosed with Guillain-Barré, a rare nervous system disorder that results from nerve damage ...

    Read More

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