Recovering from Guillain-Barré syndrome 

Most people with Guillain-Barré syndrome make a full recovery within a year.

Some people only take a few weeks to recover. Others experience delayed recovery and may need to spend up to a few months in hospital or a neurological rehabilitation unit.

You may not be able to walk unaided, have numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, and you may have persistent fatigue (extreme tiredness).

Read more about the complications of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

The following therapies may be used to help your recovery.


Counselling is a talking therapy you may find useful if you have Guillain-Barré syndrome, or while you are recovering from it. During counselling you'll be able to:

  • discuss your problems honestly and openly
  • address any issues that are preventing you from achieving your goals and objectives 
  • achieve a more positive outlook on life

Guillain-Barré & Associated Inflammatory Neuropathies (GAIN) is a UK-based charity offering advice and support to those affected by the syndrome.


Physiotherapy can help restore movement and function to a person's full potential.

A range of techniques are used to help relieve any pain, discomfort and muscle stiffness. These include:

  • movement and exercise  taking into account a person's current level of health and specific requirements
  • manual therapy  where the physiotherapist uses their hands to relieve pain and stiffness
  • aquatic therapy  a form of physiotherapy carried out in water
  • other techniques  such as heat, cold and acupuncture to ease pain

Occupational therapy

An occupational therapist will be able to identify any problems that Guillain-Barré syndrome causes in your everyday life, and help you work out practical solutions.

This may involve:

  • practising the activity in manageable stages
  • learning a different way to complete the activity
  • trying devices that make activities easier

For example, if you find it difficult to get in and out of the bath, grab rails could be fitted in the bathroom to make this easier.

Read more about occupational therapy.

Speech and language therapy

A speech and language therapist will be able to help people who experience:

  • difficulty speaking (dysarthria)
  • difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • weakness of any associated muscles

This may involve a tailored programme of exercises to improve speech or swallowing. If necessary, communication aids may be recommended.

Page last reviewed: 17/12/2014

Next review due: 17/12/2016