Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Michelle LaBrecque


Background and Purpose. Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a lower motor neuron autoimmune disorder that primarily affects the myelin sheaths of the peripheral nervous system (PNS). GBS results in generalized weakness and sensory deficits of the extremities and trunk; in severe cases it may impact cranial nerves, respiratory musculature, and the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The purpose of this case study is to describe the physical therapy interventions used for a patient diagnosed with GBS and the results from those interventions.

Case Description. This case study describes the 9-week acute care Physical Therapy management of a 51-year-old transgender female diagnosed with GBS presenting with symmetrical acute flaccid paralysis, paresthesia, and neuropathic pain of the extremities and trunk. She also presented with autonomic dysfunction resulting in dyspnea, dysphagia, and dysarthria.

Intervention. The physical therapy treatment of this patient involved range of motion, stretching, strengthening, aerobic endurance, neuromuscular re-education, balance and coordination, gait and assistive device training, and skin/joint protection.

Outcomes. Following physical therapy rehabilitation, the patient demonstrated improvements with range of motion (ROM), strength, fine and gross motor coordination, balance, ambulation, transfers, endurance, and functional skills; along with reduced neuropathic pain, paresthesia, and disability.

Discussion. This case illustrates the inpatient physical therapy interventions for a patient diagnosed with GBS based on the patient's presentation and response to interventions. The rationale for treatment was based on the GBS/ AIDP Foundation International guidelines. A multidisciplinary approach which included physical therapy interventions was found to be very effective in regaining most of the patient's previous function. More research is needed to assess effectiveness of specific physical therapy interventions in treating this patient population.