May is Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS) Awareness Month.
The CDC estimates that anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 people are diagnosed with Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS) each year. GBS is an inflammatory disorder of the peripheral nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms of GBS include weakness, tingling, and numbness in the legs and arms. Eventually, GBS can progress to the point where the patient requires the use of a wheelchair because they cannot move their legs. Individuals with GBS often experience extreme distress in the days and weeks leading up to their diagnosis because they can find themselves wheelchair-bound in a matter of days with no apparent trauma that would cause their body to react in such an extreme way.
GBS is usually diagnosed with a lumbar puncture measuring elevated fluid protein or by an electrical test to measure nerve function. Treatment for GBS requires administration of a high dose of intravenous immune globulins (IVIG) which is usually given in an in-patient setting. Most patients require physical therapy as well. Luckily, many GBS patients are able to make a strong recovery after six to twelve months of treatment, with little to no limitations in their mobility; however, GBS patients can experience recurrences of fatigue and weakness.
The aim of GBS awareness month is not only to promote awareness of people living with GBS, but to advocate for research initiatives aimed at treating and preventing GBS as well as reaching out to local and federal legislators to ensure that people with GBS have access to care that they can afford.
While the precise cause of GBS has not been found, it is associated with the stimulation of the body’s immune system. In some cases, the flu shot has been thought to cause GBS. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was established by the Federal Government to provide compensation for people that have been injured by a vaccine, including individuals who have been diagnosed with GBS after a flu vaccine. For more information about the Vaccine Injury Compensation program, call The Greenwood Law Firm.