After Being Paralyzed For 10 Weeks, a Guillain-Barre Syndrome Patient Will Walk Again

Dancers have amazing muscle control. Through hard work and practice, they learn to make the tiniest movements precisely. So imagine the terror former dancer Emily Thompson, then only 20, felt when Guillain-Barre syndrome left her entire body was paralyzed for 10 weeks.

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Prior to Emily’s hospitalization, she began to experience a numb feeling in both hands and feet. She could only move her body so much. At the hospital, she was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre, a rare condition that affects about one in 100,000 people.

Guillain-Barre syndrome causes a person’s immune system to attack their nerves. Tingling sensations and weakness in the extremities are one of the first signs that a person has the condition. Then it quickly spreads thus paralyzing the entire body. Typically, weakness occurs weeks after the symptoms first occur. In Emily’s case, the symptoms occurred more rapidly.

Initially, doctors told her that she would not survive her rare condition because of its progression. At one point, she could not communicate and a few days later she was not able to open her eyes. She spent 5 weeks on a ventilator and then 2 more weeks in intensive care. During that time her mother Carolyn recalls her not improving at all. No one thought she was going to make it.

Finally, after 7 weeks, she began to improve and regained some feeling in her body. Emily is now in a neurological ward and on the road to recovery. When she took her first steps again, she cried because she never thought she would be able to walk again. About 85% of those with Guillain-Barre syndrome recover within 6-12 months.

Carolyn hopes that Emily’s story and experience will help raise awareness about Guillain-Barre syndrome.

There currently is not a cure and the cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is still unknown.

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