Guillain-Barré syndrome and physiotherapy

Rehabilitation plays an important role in the treatment of people with GBS.

In acute stages, chest physiotherapy is vital for patients with GBS. Chest physiotherapy may include chest percussion, breathing exercises, resistive inspiratory training, secretion clearance and decrease work of breathing.

As respiratory function improves, physiotherapists may also help wean the patient off the ventilator.

Physiotherapists may also provide patients and their families with information about GBS – especially at the early stages of the disease when they need it most.

People with GBS often feel fear and anxiety. This is caused by lack of knowledge, inability to communicate, loss of control, pain, and uncertainty.

Physiotherapists can assist by educating family, friends, and the patient on the condition. Patients are allowed to ask questions, resolve misconceptions, and regain a sense of control in a less clinical and threatening environment.

Massage can also help manage depression, while movement is crucial to prevent complications such as stiff joints, weak muscles and thrombosis. Physiotherapists are equipped to assess the patient, plan the treatment needed for the specific stage and symptoms of the GBS patient.  

In the beginning, when the patient might not be able to move themselves, the physiotherapist would concentrate on passive movements, stretches and positioning. As the patient recovers the exercises are adjusted to incorporate the muscles and joints that can move actively. 

The physiotherapist is responsible for rehabilitation of the GBS patient until fully recovered and can return to work and leisure activities.

Contact your physiotherapist today for more information.

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