Acute Immune Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (AIDP)

also known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome…

May is Guillain-Barré Syndrome Awareness Month

Guillain-Barré syndrome can affect anybody. It can strike at any age and both sexes are equally prone to the disorder. The syndrome is rare, however, afflicting only about one person in 100,000. Usually Guillain-Barré occurs a few days or weeks after the patient has had symptoms of a respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. Occasionally surgery or vaccinations will trigger the syndrome.

Guillain-Barré syndrome can be a devastating disorder because of its sudden and unexpected onset. Most people reach the stage of greatest weakness within the first 2 weeks after symptoms appear, and by the third week of the illness 90 percent of all patients are at their weakest. The recovery period may be as little as a few weeks or as long as a few years. About 30 percent of those with Guillain-Barré still have a residual weakness after 3 years. About 3 percent may suffer a relapse of muscle weakness and tingling sensations many years after the initial attack.

Jon Spannhake (Guillain-Barré Syndrome Survivor)

During World War I, Guillain, Barré, and Strohl described a series of patients with a similar presentation and decreased or absent deep tendon reflexes. They also described albuminocytologic dissociation in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), ie, increased CSF protein in the absence of increased WBCs. This allowed them to differentiate AIDP from poliomyelitis, the most common acute paralytic syndrome of that era… The disorder came to public attention briefly when it struck a number of people who received the 1976 Swine Flu vaccine.  Today, a diagnosis may be confirmed through a lumbar puncture to find elevated fluid protein and electrical test of nerve and muscle function may be performed.

It typically begins with weakness and/or abnormal sensations of the legs and arms.  It can also affect muscles of the chest, face and eyes.  Although many cases are mild, some patients are virtually paralyzed.  Breathing muscles may be so weakened that a machine is required to keep the patient alive.  Many patients require an intensive care unit during the early course of their illness, especially if support of breathing with a machine is required.

Care involves use of general supportive measures for the paralyzed patient, and also methods specifically designed to speed recovery, especially for those patients with major problems, such as the inability to walk. Plasma exchange (a blood “cleansing” procedure) and high dose intravenous immune globulins are often helpful to shorten the course of GBS. Most patients, after their early hospital stay and when medically stable, are candidates for a rehabilitation program to help learn optimal use of muscles as nerve supply returns. Although most people recover, the length of the illness is unpredictable and often months of hospital care are required. The majority of patients eventually return to a normal or near normal lifestyle, but many endure a protracted recovery and some remain wheelchair-bound indefinitely.

Jeffrey Zschunke’s battle with GBS, his road to recovery, and  his movie “Back On My Feet”: Read “The Paths We Choose” jeffreyzschunke@yahoo.com

Guillain-Barre Syndrome Comes on quickly

By Mary Kugler, R.N., About.com

National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke:
Guillain-Barre Syndrome Fact Sheet

Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy
Author: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, FRCP(C), FACP, Professor of Neurology, Clinical Professor of Medicine, Clinical Professor of Family Medicine, Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, State University of New York Upstate Medical University; Chair, Department of Neurology, Crouse Irving Memorial Hospital
Coauthor(s): Richard A Sater, MD, PhD, Consulting Staff, High Point Neurological Associates

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~ by marbleroad on May 21, 2009.

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