GBS is a rare but serious autoimmune disorder that can affect any part of the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord. This is known as the peripheral nervous system.
An autoimmune disease involves the immune system attacking and destroying certain groups of healthy cells. In the case of GBS, the immune system attacks the myelin sheaths of peripheral nerves.
The myelin sheaths are the coatings on the axons of nerves, and myelin is essential for the speedy carrying of axonal nerve impulses. Axons are the long, thin extensions of nerve cells. In some cases, these are also attacked.
As the myelin is damaged, nerves can no longer send certain information to the spinal cord and brain, such as touch sensations. This causes the sensation of numbness. In addition, the brain and spinal cord are no longer able to transmit signals back to the body, leading to muscle weakness.
The disease often begins with tingling sensations and weakness in the feet and legs. It then slowly spreads upward until a large portion of the body is affected. The nerves connected to the lower extremities are the longest in the body. This travel distance makes these nerves more prone to a break in nerve signals due to GBS and its symptoms.
This condition is considered a medical emergency, and an individual should receive medical attention as soon as possible.
The symptoms of GBS typically begin with tingling and weakness in the feet and legs that gradually spreads to the rest of the body.
- weakness in the lower body, moving upward
- general instability when walking
- less control over facial muscles during activities such as chewing or talking
- cramp-like pain that gets worse at night
- lack of control over the bowel or bladder
- pain, with around 50 percent of people with GBS experiencing severe nerve pain that may need drug management
- a faster heart rate than normal
- high or low blood pressure
- blood clots
- pressure sores if a person is immobile for a considerable length of time
- difficulty breathing.
The exact causes of GBS are still not known. Some physicians believe that viral and bacterial infections may change the how the immune system reacts to the peripheral nerves, possibly causing the myelin and underlying axon not to be recognized as body tissue. This would make them a target for immune response.
There are some known risk factors, including:
- Sex: Males are slightly more likely to contract GBS.
- Age: Risk increases with age.
- Campylobacter jejuni bacterial infection: A common cause of food poisoning, this infection sometimes occurs before GBS.
- Influenza virus, HIV, or Epstein-Barr virus (EBV): These have occurred in association with cases of GBS.
- Mycoplasma pneumonia: This is a bacterial infection of the lungs.
- Surgery: Some surgeries can trigger GBS.
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma: Cancer of the lymphatic system can lead to GBS.
- Influenza vaccination or childhood vaccinations: These have also been linked to GBS in rare cases.
As each individual responds differently to the condition, our specialised physiotherapists aim to individualise treatment to help restore movement and function. Some of the physiotherapy treatments we offer can help to:
- Increase muscle strength through strengthening and mobilisation exercises
- Improve balance and mobility through assessment of different mobility aids and postual re-education
- Reduce muscle stiffness, spasms and pain through stretching programmes
- Reduce postural instability and balance problems through core stability exercises and balance training
- Reduce the risk of falls through balance work, gait re-education and training
- Increase independence and quality of life
- Fatigue management and advice.
A stroke occurs when a blockage or bleed of the blood vessels either interrupts or reduces the supply of blood to the brain. When this happens, the brain does not receive enough oxygen or nutrients, and brain cells start to die.
Stroke is a cerebrovascular disease. This means that it affects the blood vessels that feed the brain oxygen. If the brain does not receive enough oxygen, damage may start to occur.
This is a medical emergency. Although many strokes are treatable, some can lead to disability.
- are 55 years of age or older
- have a personal or family history of stroke
- have high blood pressure
- have diabetes
- have high cholesterol
- have heart disease, carotid artery disease, or another vascular disease
- are sedentary
- consume alcohol excessively
- use illicit drugs
eating a healthful diet
- maintaining a moderate weight
- exercising regularly
- not smoking tobacco
- avoiding alcohol, or only drinking moderately
Stroke is a potentially life changing event that can have lasting physical and emotional effects.
Successful recovery from a stroke will often involve specific therapies and support systems, including:
- Speech therapy: This helps with problems producing or understanding speech. Practice, relaxation, and changing communication style can all make communicating easier.
- Physical therapy: This can help a person relearn movement and coordination. It is important to stay active, even though this may be difficult at first.
- Occupational therapy: This can help a person improve their ability to carry out daily activities, such as bathing, cooking, dressing, eating, reading, and writing.
- Support groups: Joining a support group can help a person cope with common mental health issues that can occur after a stroke, such as depression. Many find it useful to share common experiences and exchange information.
- Support from friends and family: Close friends and relatives should try to offer practical support and comfort after a stroke. Letting friends and family know what they can do to help is very important.
Rehabilitation is an important and ongoing part of stroke treatment. With the right assistance and the support of loved ones, regaining a normal quality of life is usually possible, depending on the severity of the stroke.
Guillain Barre Syndrome.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis. It mostly causes pain and swelling in the spine and the joints that connect the bottom of the spine to the pelvis (sacroiliac joint). Other joints can be affected as well. It is a systemic disease, which means it may affect other body parts and organs. The disease tends to run in families.The disease can occur at any age, but typically begins between ages 20 and 40. AS is more common in men than in women
The exact cause is not clear.Researchers believe that people with certain genes develop it when they are exposed to a virus, bacteria or another trigger. Many people with AS have a gene called HLA-B27. But most people that have the gene never develop AS.
Low back, buttocks and hip pain are usually the first symptoms. Stiffness when first waking up or after long periods of rest. Fatigue and Appetite loss.
Medical history. The doctor will ask about symptoms, when they started, if they come and go, current medical conditions, medication use and whether family members have arthritis.
- Physical examination. The doctor will look for signs of tenderness, swelling and pain in your spine, pelvis and hips. They will watch how your joints move and may check your eyes.
- Blood tests. The doctor may order a test for the HLA-B27 gene. Having this gene doesn’t mean you have axSpA, but it can help with diagnosis. Other tests will check for body-wide inflammation.
- Imaging tests. The doctor may order X-rays, ultrasound, MRI or CT scans of the pelvis and spine to look for damage.
There is no cure for AS, but treatment aims to:
- Relieve pain and stiffness in the back and affected areas.
- Keep your spine straight.
- Prevent joint and organ damage.
- Preserve joint function and mobility.
- Improve quality of life.
Physical Therapy and Assistive Devices:
A physical therapist will teach you to strengthen and stretch your muscles to help keep you mobile and reduce your pain. Occupational therapists can prescribe assistive devices and give tips for protecting joints and making daily tasks easier.