Topics: Research, Paralysis, Education

The Truth about Guillain-Barré Syndrome & Spinal Cord Injuries

People often think that spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are the result only of car accidents, sporting accidents, and other causes. However, a spinal cord injury also can result from a variety of medical events and conditions such as a stroke, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis. Another cause of paralysis is a disorder that can be caused by a virus, infection, or something you ingest. One such example is known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).

Guillain-Barré Syndrome: Causes and Symptoms

Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which is also sometimes written as Guillain Barre Syndrome, is an autoimmune disorder that causes your body to attack its nervous system, which causes damage to your nerve cells. GBS was identified in 1916 by French neurologists Georges Guillain, Jean-Alexandre Barre, and Andre Strohl in two soldiers who demonstrated acute and sudden paralysis followed by recovery.

The condition, which most frequently affects the peripheral nerves that connect your spinal cord and brain to the rest of your body, causes various symptoms, including muscle weakness and paralysis. The syndrome can affect anybody regardless of their age or sex. It is a relatively rare condition, however, in the United States, affecting approximately one person in 100,000.

GBS made headlines in recent years due to the worldwide outbreaks of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which is believed to be linked to bites from infected mosquitos. However, some cases have been related to foodborne contaminants, such as eating raw shellfish.

A Legal Precedence for GBS-Related Lawsuits

A Florida couple who worked with a lawyer from the spinal cord injury law firm Swope, Rodante P.A. recently received a record-setting $6.7 million compensation settlement in a lawsuit against a Tampa restaurant after ingesting raw oysters. In the case of the couple, the wife was sick for several days, and the husband became paralyzed from the waist down for several months. He had to learn how to walk again and also is expected to experience sensory problems, pain, fatigue, weakness, and other neurological conditions for the rest of his life.

Restaurants are required to post consumer warnings about any potential food-related risks, such as ingesting raw seafood or undercooked meat, but during trial, attorneys for the plaintiffs presented evidence showing the restaurant’s menus had no such warning about the raw seafood.

When a foodborne illness causes GBS and resulting paralysis from a restaurant or other responsible entity, it is possible to receive compensation. However, each legal situation needs to be handled on an individual basis, and past lawsuit awards do not guarantee future results.

Diagnosis, Treatment & Rehabilitation for Guillain-Barré Syndrome

GBS is often difficult to detect in the early stages. To diagnose the syndrome, a physician will discuss the symptoms experienced by the patient, and they typically will perform a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) and use electrical nerve and muscle tests as well.

While there is no known cure for Guillain-Barre Syndrome, there are three types of treatment that have been used to speed recovery and reduce the severity of the illness and its symptoms.

  1. Plasmapheresis, or an exchange of blood plasma;
  2. Immunoglobulin therapy, which gives GBS patients antibodies from healthy blood donors to fight the damaging antibodies from GBS that cause the body’s autoimmune response; and
  3. Physical therapy, which aims to help them regain strength and functionality in their extremities, and mobility.

If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal cord injury as the result of Guillain-Barré Syndrome or a medical condition caused by another person or entity, it’s essential to get the legal help you need to receive the compensation you deserve. Contact a team of caring and compassionate spinal cord injury lawyers today to speak about your case.

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Spinal Cord Team

Written by Spinal Cord Team has been created as a resource for patients of spinal cord injuries and their families. Find everything you need to learn more about your injury, locate a doctor or treatment center, or discover financial relief to support you through this difficult time.

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