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Clinical Director Hope Fine, RRT-CHT

Guillain barre

H.O.P.E. for Guillain Barre

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Guillain Barre Patients

What is Guillain Barre syndrome?

Guillain Barre (pronounced gee-YAH-buh-RAy) is a rare disorder which causes your body’s immune system to attack your nerves. It can cause muscle weakness, reflex loss, numbness and tingling in parts of your body. It can also lead to temporary paralysis. Guillain Barre syndrome, although having quite a devastating effect on the victim, is not a lifelong disease. Most people do recover, even in severe cases, with 85% of people making a full recovery within 6 to 12 months.


Guillain Barre syndrome strikes quickly and typically begins with muscle weakness and tingling sensations in the outer extremities which spread to the upper body and arms. Only about one in ten people experience initial symptoms in the arms or face. As the disease progresses, the muscle weakness can evolve into paralysis. The most severe weakness or paralysis usually occurs within two to four weeks after the symptoms begin with recovery beginning about two to four weeks after the weakness plateaus. Below is a list of the symptoms that may accompany the disease:

  • ‘pins and needles’ sensations in fingers, toes, wrists or ankles
  • weakness in the legs that spreads to the upper body
  • difficulty walking or an inability to walk or climb stairs
  • difficulty with eye or facial movements
  • severe aches and cramps that may become worse at night
  • difficulty controlling bladder or bowel function
  • rapid heart rate
  • low or high blood pressure
  • difficulty breathing


It is unknown whether Guillain Barre is caused by a germ or a virus, such as the Zika virus. We do however know that the disease usually starts to appear some days or even weeks after a respiratory or digestive tract infection. We also know that the disease occurs predominantly in people who are male and who are 50 years or older.

Diagnosis and Treatment

In order to diagnose Guillain Barre, the doctor will test how well your nerves and muscles work. You may also get a spinal tap, which is where a needle is inserted into your lower back to obtain a small amount of spinal fluid. The doctor will check the protein level in this fluid, since people with Guillain Barre have a high level. Should you be diagnosed with Guillain Barre, treatment should begin right away. One method of treatment is called plasmapheresis. This process entails removing blood from your body, cleaning it and returning it back to you. Another way in which Guillain Barre is treated is by means of immunoglobin or antibodies. This will help to lessen the immune system’s attack on your body.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

One of the symptoms of Guillain Barre is that the patient struggles to breathe properly. The benefit of using hyperbaric oxygen therapy (‘HBOT’), which allows for the inhalation of 100% oxygen, is evident. Despite not being able to inhale adequate amounts of air, HBOT ensures that what is in fact inhaled by the patient will supply sufficient oxygen to the body. HBOT also allows for oxygen to be administered at an increased pressure which helps the oxygen to be absorbed by the body’s fluids, cells and tissues. This has many benefits including enhancing the body’s ability to stimulate and repair function to damaged cells and organs. Oxygen therapy also increases the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria and reduce swelling. however, the most important benefit of HBOT for this condition is: HBOT helps stimulate stem cell mobilization out of your bone marrow enablimg the patients own defense mechanism to increase ten fold therefore allowing the patient to recover much faster. Given all these benefits, HBOT has successfully been used to treat Guillain Barre Syndrome. Please contact us for more information regarding HBOT.

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