What is Guillain-Barre' syndrome?
Guillain-Barré syndrome is named for French scientists Georges Guillain and Jean Alexandre Barré, two of the three scientists (along with André Strohl) who more fully described and differentiated the effects of the disease in 1916.
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare autoimmune disorder – the body’s immune system attacks itself – where the body’s cells attack the myelin – the insulation around individual nerve fibers – which can cause tingling and muscle weakness and paralysis, according to both The New York Times Health Guide and Johns Hopkins Hospitals’ website.
The exact cause of the disorder is unknown, though it often follows a minor infection, such as a lung or gastrointestinal infection, according to the Times’ Health Guide. A common bacterium that causes diarrhea is one of the most common risk factors for GBS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though even the flu, or a vaccination, can lead to GBS in some cases. Viral infections, such as AIDS or mononucleosis, can also lead to GBS, according to The Times’ Health Guide. The disorder is not contagious.
Muscle weakness and paralysis, and related effects, are the most common effects of the disorder; in most cases, the muscle weakness starts in the legs and then spreads to the arms, according to The Times’ Health Guide.
Though there is no cure for the disorder, it is treatable. The vast majority of patients recover, though some have lasting effects, including weakness and recurrences of fatigue and abnormal pain and muscle aches, according to multiple sources.
According to GBS/CIDP Foundation International, GBS can be unpredictable in its early stages, so most newly diagnosed patients are hospitalized. Two potential treatments are plasma exchange, a process to remove the attacking antibodies from the system, and adding immunoglobulins to the blood in large quantities to block the antibodies.
Fifteen-year-old Kimby Wragg is on a mission to raise awareness about Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare nervous system disorder with a still unknown cause.
Wragg, whose step-cousin was stricken with the disease last year, and her mother, Tammy Hammonds, are helping to organize a fundraising walk for GBS research from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday on the Covington square.
The Atlanta Area Walk & Roll for GBS/CIDP (Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, which is a chronic form of GBS) is being hosted through GBS/CIDP Foundation International, which started out as a support group for the disorder and now has more than 30,000 members worldwide.
Hammonds said the walk will be the first one in Georgia. She said her daughter has been working to raise awareness of the disorder and money to search for a cure for a while, including hosting fundraisers at the local Zaxby’s, holding bake sales at school and now participating in a walk. She’s also been reading to younger students and donating books to raise awareness about the disorder.
"I am committed to support GBS/CIDP (research) because my 4-year-old step-cousin had GBS. It is rare for a child that young to have GBS. She is doing much better now, but I want to be able to help raise money to help others who have GBS and hopefully find a cure," Wragg said on her fundraising page.
There were 19 people signed up as of Monday to participate in the walk, but Hammonds said she’s hoping 50-60 people will participate. For more information, to sign up to walk or to donate to the cause, visit www.walkandroll.kintera.org/atlanta. People can also register the day Aof the event.
The goal is to raise $10,000. As of Monday, $1,915 had been raised. .
"We’re planning to do the event again next year; she’s not stopping," Hammonds said.
Hammonds said Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston will read a proclamation at the event and there will be a ribbon cutting.
The walk starts at 10 a.m., with same-day registration beginning at 9 a.m.