Curriculum Vitae

Google Scholar


Guillain-Barre Recovery

Recovery from Guillain Barre

This post discusses my recovery from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which is a rare (usually one-time) autoimmune condition that can develop in response to a respiratory infection. Guillain-Barre results in a loss of sensation in peripheral nerves (usually starting in the hands and feet) that can progress to partial or total paralysis and affect ability to breathe. The body produces autoantibodies that attack myelin, the sheathing around nerves that acts as a kind of insulation to help the nerves transmit signals. After this damage, the nerves repair very slowly. I started developing symptoms of Guillain-Barre Syndrome about 6 weeks after a flu-like illness. It's important to note that I had a very mild case of Guillain-Barre and did not receive the standard treatment of IVIG. My experience should not be taken as representative.

In my search of the literature, I found little information regarding recovery times from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and so I documented my recovery by walking (and eventually running) on a treadmill at the maximum speed I could accomplish (see figure). Hopefully, more data from other individuals' recoveries can provide a clearer picture of the range of recovery experiences. To provide some context to the figure below, my symptoms started on Thanksgiving 2018 and the worst symptoms were about a month later (I could still walk about a block and so not representative of typical severe cases--I never had problems breathing). The figure below starts about a month later, and the final speed in July 2019 was near my pre-symptomatic running speed. One reason for sharing this is to highlight that--at least in my recovery--the occasional relapses I experience (where the numbness returned), while very unnerving and challenging, turned out to be temporary.

guillain-barre recovery