Recovering from Guillain-Barré syndrome 

Most people (about eight out of 10) with Guillain-Barré syndrome make a full recovery.

It usually takes several weeks to recover after the start of symptoms. However, some people will need to spend longer in hospital or a neurological rehabilitation unit. While some people recover quickly, it can take a year or more before a full recovery is made.

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

Counselling is a talking therapy that you may find useful if you have Guillain-Barré syndrome, or while you are recovering from it. During counselling you will 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

The Guillain-Barré Syndrome Support Group is a UK-based charity that offers advice and support to those affected by the syndrome.

Physiotherapy

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.

For example, if you have difficulty walking unaided, an occupational therapist will be able to help you find a suitable walking stick, walking frame or wheelchair.

Read more about occupational therapy.

Page last reviewed: 09/10/2012

Next review due: 09/10/2014