Taylor (2003) The ventilated patient undergoing hydrotherapy – a case study

The ascending peripheral neuropathy and paralysis that results from Guillain-Barre Syndrome’s (GBS) demyelination of peripheral nerves is a challenge to health professionals; the patient requires support during the acute disease process and during the remyelination recovery period, often lasting months to years. The staff of a major metroplitan teaching hospital’s critical care unit (CCU) and physiotherapy departments developed a hydrotherapy treatment programme for a ventilated patient with GBS. Through careful planning and appropriate preparation, it was found that hydrotherapy could successfully and safely be incorporated into a patient’s treatment regimen. The benefits included improved range of movement due to the supportive nature of water, anecdotal increased strength, size and movement of remyelinating muscles and psychological improvement. Although this patient has not recovered from GBS to be independent, hydrotherapy was an valuable part of the treatment regimen and it could be suggested the increase muscle strength lead to improved respiratory function and enabling weaning from ventilation, reducing intensive care length of stay and cost.

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