One day Luther Glenn was rushed to the emergency room, given a spinal tap, and diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Within a day, Glenn was completely paralyzed.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system. Symptoms begin with weakness or tingling sensations in the legs, followed by loss of muscle function and eventually total paralysis. At the worst stages of the disease, patients can be at mortal risk due to interference with respiration and heart rate. The disease is rare, affecting only one in 100,000 people.
For Glenn and many other patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, the symptoms began occurring within days or weeks after the patients report symptoms of respiratory or gastrointestinal viral infection. About 80 percent of people with Guillain-Barre Syndrome will reach nearly 100 percent recovery, but Glenn is still struggling with the symptoms.