Guillain-Barré syndrome—a patient guide and nursing resource

M Kehoe
L' Axone 2001, 22 (4): 16-24
Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) is an illness characterized by acute neuromuscular paralysis. A review of the history, course of the disease, current treatments, and nursing interventions, as well as excerpts from a patient teaching guide developed by the author for patients with GBS is included in this paper. The objectives are to present information about GBS, first at a level of understanding appropriate for patients and their families, and then to provide a more indepth discussion for health care providers. Despite the potential severity of GBS, the expected outcomes are encouraging. GBS affects 1-2.73 individuals per 100,000/year (Hahn, 1998). The symptoms can range from numbness and tingling with mild weakness to total paralysis requiring mechanical ventilation. Once diagnosed, patients are usually treated with intravenous immune globulin (i.v. IG), which significantly reduces the duration of the illness (Hughes, 1997; Guillain-Barré Syndrome Study Group, 1985). Neuroscience nurses can make a difference in the recovery of their patients by anticipating potential complications and attending to their special needs during the acute and recovery phases of their illness. Aside from physical care, being able to support and teach the patient and family about GBS is crucial. Use of a patient and family teaching guide is one strategy for providing education and support.

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