Guillain Barre Syndrome in Children

What is It?

It's a very rare medical condition, affecting the human immune system and nerves. A healthy immune system helps you from getting sick, but if your child is suffering from this condition the immune system works in the opposite way, by damaging nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. When your nerves are healthy they efficiently transmit messages from the brain to various parts of the body. But if your nerves have been damaged by guillain barre syndrome, the messages can't be transmitted properly, and put very simply, your body doesn't work.

When children become affected by Guillain Barre Syndrome they may find it impossible to do the simplest of tasks, such as running, catching a ball, holding a pencil and sometimes even breathing. Adults and kids may also experience a strange sensation on their skin - simply because the nerves on and near the surface of the skin aren't operating correctly. Sufferers of this rare syndrome will generally spend some time in hospital, but the recovery rates are very high, and the chances of returning to normal life and activities very favourable.

Symptoms and Causes

The medical profession isn't all that sure what causes guillain-barre in adults or children, but they do have a few theories. It seems that many cases occur after a bacterial or viral infection, as in those that result in diarrhoea or sore throats. During these kinds of infections an infants or adults body is already working hard to fight off the virus or infection and the immune system could be making an error by attacking nerve cells, instead of the invader. It's unknown however, why some people recover from these illnesses normally and other people, kids included, go on to get guillain-barre syndrome.

Symptoms include weakness or a tingling sensation in the legs, which go on to spread to the upper body and arms. People and children suffering with Guillain Barre Syndrome often feel exhausted and barely able to move. Breathing can also be affected.

Diagnosis for Guillain-Barre Syndrome

There are a few tests that doctor's can perform, if they suspect that Guillain Barre Syndrome is the root cause for a person or infants weakness and tingly legs. They can perform a spinal tap or one of two other tests that will analyses how well a person's nerves are sending signals round the body, to the extremities and back to the brain.

Treatment and Recovery

Generally, this syndrome will be treated in hospital, because it has a tendency to get worse before it gets better. Patients, particularly kids and infants, need to be near medical professionals and equipment. Some may even stay in a hospital's intensive care unit, to ensure they receive extra special care.

Recovering from this condition can be a long, drawn out process, even when the patient is allowed to go home. They may need a walker or wheelchair until their strength is regained and walking is no longer a problem.

Physical therapy is used to help a person move around and get stronger. Kids and infants recovering from Guillain-Barre Syndrome can sometimes feel angry, sad and often frustrated. This is why a counsellor or therapist is often involved closely with the family.