At Angel MedFlight, our medical crew is experienced in treating and transporting patients with Guillain–Barré syndrome. Our medically configured learjets travel at higher altitudes than helicopters or other air carriers for limited turbulence and a smoother flight.
From bedside to bedside, our team provides complete supportive care to make your healthcare journey as comfortable as possible. We partner with your primary care provider to prepare you for your flight with all of the accommodations of a hospital room. In cases of chronic measures, our medical crew can administer medication, tracheotomy tubes and oxygen vents to GBS patients to ensure they are resting and breathing comfortably, and receiving ample oxygen.
We handle our patients with the utmost care, adding extra memory foam padding and bedding for comfort before, after and during the flight. We understand many of our GBS patients are unable to move themselves and the emotional toll this illness takes on them. Our team provides complete clinical care and offers emotional support from the moment they meet a patient. We treat all of our patients like they are family.
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Tips for Families and Loved Ones of those Recently Diagnosed with Guillain–Barré
1. For most patients, Guillain–Barré syndrome is an acute disease, meaning that after a time they will start to recover. In general, symptoms worsen for two to four weeks before they start to stabilize. The syndrome is different for every patient, but for most patients, recovery isn’t more than weeks or months away. Because of this, some support groups have coined the condition “Get Better Slowly”.
2. Nerve pain is typically the greatest challenge. The pain is severe and felt throughout the patient’s entire body because the nerves are inflamed – the pain is unbearable. Massages and moving positions can help to alleviate pain, but narcotics and opioids are typically used due to the severity. Your patient may also be sensitive to touch because their nerves aren’t functioning normally. A light touch of the hand can feel like a knife cutting through. Make sure to exercise extra care with these patients, be gentle and slow.
3. The depression and anxiety the illness is also known for can be just as destabilizing as the physical pain. Your patient may be in a dark place, it’s important to keep reminding them that they can get better, and consult their doctor to see if anxiety medications are necessary for coping with severe panic attacks. These times are the hardest – they will need to lean on you for support.
4. Unless your loved one is in a coma, it is important to remember that they can likely still hear everything that is being said. Even if they seem lethargic or appear to be unconscious, talk to your patient and keep telling them that everything is going to be alright.
5. It can be hard to watch, but a look at Guillain–Barré syndrome videos by survivors can help you and your patient anticipate what is to come and remind you both of all the patients who have recovered from the syndrome. If you can, find someone to meet in person with your patient.
About Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS)
Guillain–Barré syndrome is a rare disorder that causes your immune system to attack your nerves. The nerves in your peripheral nervous system connect your brain to the rest of your body and transmit signals to your muscles. If these nerves are damaged, your muscles won’t be able to respond to signals they receive from your brain. Patients with GBS frequently travel to specialists for treatment via air ambulance.
What is your peripheral nervous system?
Your peripheral nervous system, or PNS, is the portion of your nervous system outside of your brain and spinal cord. These nerves connect your central nervous system (CNDS)to your sensory glands, including eyes, ears and other organs of the body like muscles, blood vessels and glands.
The peripheral nerves are made up of 12 cranial nerves, the spinal nerves and roots, and the autonomic nerves (related to automatic functions of the body, including regulation of the heart muscle).
Guillain–Barré syndrome Symptoms
Usually the first symptom is a tingling sensation in your toes, feet, and legs until the tingling spreads to your arms and fingers. Symptoms can progress quickly, for some people, the disease can become serious in a matter of hours. Other symptoms can include:
- Leg muscle weakness that spreads to your upper body and escalates over time
- Difficulty walking regularly
- Problems moving your eyes or face, talking, chewing, or swallowing
- Severe lower back pain
- Loss of bladder control
- Heightened heart rate
- Problems breathing
Because of the severe, life-threatening symptoms the syndrome brings on, air ambulance is the ideal transportation method for these patients. An air ambulance will include all the same accommodations of a modern hospital room, including heart monitors, oxygen machines and IV’s necessary for patients with Guillain–Barré syndrome.
What causes GBS?
The cause of Guillain–Barré syndrome is still unknown, however; the condition often develops just a few days or weeks after a digestive tract or respiratory infection occurs. Recent trends show that the Zika virus can bring about the syndrome. On rare occasions the syndrome is triggered by a surgery or immunization.
A growing perception among some scientists is the virus that brings about the onset of Guillain–Barré syndrome changes the cells of the nerves, making them unrecognizable to the immune system which responds with an attack.
While there is currently no cure for Guillain–Barré syndrome, there are two types of treatment the can reduce recovery timeframes and the severity of symptoms:
- Immunoglobulin therapy: immunoglobulins (or antibodies) from donors are given intravenously. This treatment can block harmful antibodies involved in the autoimmune response
- Plasma exchange (plasmapheresis): blood is taken from the body, the plasma is removed and separated from the blood cells. Then the blood cells are returned and the plasma is regenerated by the body. This process reduces the antibodies attacking healthy cells.
Both treatment options are equally effective, but combining them does not improve patient outcomes. Researchers still don’t know specifics on why either method works.
Your Healthcare Journey Starts Here
At AngelMedFlight World Wide Air Ambulance, our medical team has treated and transported patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Do you, a loved one or a patient with GBS need to be transported to a facility for care? Learn more or call us anytime at (8770-264-3570 – we are here 24/7 to answer your questions.
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