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This is an auto immune disease affecting the peripheral nervous system. The cause is unknown however in around 60% of people it develops following a viral or bacterial infection. It is thought that the infection triggers the immune system to attack the peripheral nervous system.

The symptoms develop approximately 1-3 weeks following infection. The symptoms start in the feet and spread upwards through the body over a period of several days.


The symptoms of Gullain Barre include:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Increasing weakness and paralysis
  • Co-ordination and balance problems
  • Respiratory muscle weakness in some people.

The progression of symptoms can stop at any time during the progression. In approximately 80% of cases a full recovery occurs although hospitalisation is necessary.

Diagnosis is usually made through a lumbar puncture or nerve conduction studies. Medical treatment takes the form of intravenous immunoglobulins or plasmaphoresis (plasma exchange).


Gullain Barre Physiotherapy

This will be started in hospital and may need to be continued as an outpatient. Physiotherapy aims to:

  • Improve muscle strength
  • Improve mobility including gait and balance re-education
  • Improve functional levels

This can be achieved through exercise programmes, facilitation of normal movement and gait re-education.

At Hallamshire Physiotherapy we can carry out individual treatments and also a range of tailored exercise programmes.

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