After Being Struck by Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Family Fundraises For Special Treatment

According to a story from Walcha News, Felicity Nivison first began feeling paralysis and pain in her feet and hands. Soon, the symptoms spread to her legs and she was admitted to Tamworth Hospital. In 36 hours, the paralysis had begun to affect almost her entire body, up to her eyes.

These frightening symptoms are the result of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a condition in which muscle weakness can appear in as little as few hours, though symptoms may take weeks to progress. In its most severe phase, Guillain-Barre syndrome can be a life threatening medical emergency if the muscle weakness spreads to the breathing muscles. The cause of this condition is the result of the body’s own immune system attacking the peripheral nerves and damaging the myelin sheath. The severity of symptoms varies considerably in people who experience the syndrome; about a third retain their ability to walk during the course of the disease. In about five percent of cases, major complications lead to death of the patient. In many cases, people with Guillain-Barre syndrome have experienced an infection in the weeks prior to the start of symptoms. Generally, sufficient treatment and supportive care can lead to a full recovery, though the process can take years. To learn more about Guillain-Barre syndrome, click here.

Felicity and her family, a major source of help has been the use of NeuroNode technology, which has allowed her some limited ability to communicate with her doctors. A small sensor is placed around her eyes and detects muscle movement, displaying the signals on a computer. This is the first time that the technology has been used in GBS, and Felicity got access to NeuroNode thanks in part to a special family connection: her cousin, Peter Ford, is the founder of the company that developed it.

Now, Felicity’s family is starting raise money for the GBS Foundation of Australia in order to purchase NeuroNode systems for other patients that are dealing with severe cases. These patients will join Felicity in trialing the NeuroNode for GBS. The initial fundraising goal of $35,000 is enough to buy two machines, provide round the clock monitoring, and train staff on how to use them. If the trials go well, the family hopes to raise even more so that the foundation will be able to send machines to the patients that need them the most.

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