Hi. Welcome to our video series on neurological disorders.
Now in this one we're gonna talk about Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
Now you might say that Guillain, however you want to pronounce it, it can be really bad news for your patients.
Now, the title pretty much gives you a great summary of what we're gonna talk about.
It's the immune system against the PNS or the peripheral nervous system.
Now what is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?
We gave you a good example right there in the title slide.
But GBS or Guillain-Barre Syndrome, its rare neurological disorder
now the body's immune system mistakenly attacks part of the peripheral nervous system,
those are the network of nerves that are located outside of the brain and spinal cord.
Remember the brain and spinal cord are the central nervous system
but we're talking about the peripheral nervous system that helps your muscles move.
So in this syndrome it's rare but really a critical situation when it happens.
When this happens it attacks that peripheral nervous system.
So the symptoms can range from very mild with brief weakness to nearly devastating paralysis.
Early on in my career I had the opportunity to take care of a young lawyer.
She was sharp, pulled together and started to notice that she was tripping over her feet
and couldn't hang on to a wine glass when she was drinking, so this was really upsetting to her.
Now those were the initial symptoms that brought her in for health care.
She ended up on the other end of the spectrum.
It was a devastating paralysis, she ended up on the ventilator.
You see, we want all your muscles to work but when the diaphragm becomes involved
and the patient can't breathe that's gonna require mechanical ventilation.
So some patients can have GBS and have a very mild case
and while it's still difficult to recover it's not as intense an experience, life-altering experience
as if they have this devastating paralysis because most people eventually recover from even the most severe cases
and this young lawyer did recover, but it took a long time in rehab for her to get back to her functioning.
So, after recovery, some people will even have some degree of weakness
so there's a wide range when you talk about it to patient's who has to deal with the symptoms of Guillain-Barre
So what are the causes?
Well, you see that we put a question mark there, that's because the exact cause really isn't known.
We know it's not contagious, so that's a good thing,
so in your caring for a patient you don't have that concern but it's also not inherited.
So it's considered right now as an autoimmune disease
that's because we think the immune system attacks the nerves of the peripheral nervous system.
It's not contagious; it's not inherited, so we're looking at it as an autoimmune disease.
Now most cases usually start a few days or weeks after a respiratory or GI viral infection
so that's a common denominator that's been identified with patients who developed GBS.
Sometime surgery may appear to trigger the syndrome, we're not exactly sure, but it's usually after a virus.
Now, in some cases vaccines and that is very rare,
when we first started learning about this people were way against vaccines cuz they said,
I don't want Guillain-Barre Syndrome, but really that's a very rare case
but it could increase the risk of GBS. Some countries even reported an increase in the incidence of GBS
after someone had the Zika virus so we think it's sometimes after a virus, possibly surgery.
We know that it's not genetic so you don't inherit it and it's not contagious but we know it can be mild to devastating.
So here's a theory right now that we're working with.
Normally, your immune system uses antibodies, these are molecules that are produced
in an immune response and special white blood cells to protect us from attacking infecting microorganisms
like bacteria or viruses, so that's how it's supposed to work, that's a good thing.
My immune system remembers things I've been exposed to before,
it uses antibodies and my white blood cells, that's what protects me when things invade my body.
Here's what happens in Guillain-Barre, it's a very different story.
The immune system mistakenly looks at my own healthy nerves in the peripheral nervous system
and because of some chemicals on the infecting bacteria and viruses resemble those nerve cells,
they attack the nerve cells so now the nerve cells that I need for moving my body
and for breathing become the targets of attack in Guillain-Barre Syndrome.