Thirty-two-year-old England native Kelly Hindson is starting to recover after her lower body became paralysed during a Zumba class.
Zumba — a popular cardio dance workout — was something Hindson, a swimming teacher, attended regularly.
She was always active, spending lots of time with her two young daughters.
But last July, as she was dancing, she started to lose feeling in her legs. The instructor told the class to run in place and “I just couldn’t do it,” Hindson told The New York Daily News.
Then her feet became completely numb.
When she went to the hospital, doctors began to test her reflexes and, Hindson explained, she didn’t have any. After a few more tests, Hindson was eventually diagnosed with a rare condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), when the body’s immune system attacks the nerves, causing you to feel weak or tingly.
The sensations spread quickly, and, as in Hindson’s case, can result in temporary or permanent paralysis.
For 12 days, Hindon remained paralysed as she underwent several treatments to help regain her ability to walk.
But as soon as she was back on her feet, Hindson landed right back where she started — in the hospital, unable to feel the lower half of her body.
This time, her symptoms were much worse.
Doctors told her she had a very rare form of GBS called “Chronic inflammatory axonal polyneuropathy.”
GBS is temporary in most people, but CIAP is chronic — and usually becomes progressively worse. While GBS affects 1 in 100,000 people, CIAP is much rarer.
A year after her diagnosis, the mother of two shows signs of recovery, like walking with the help of crutches. She has been able to slowly return to teaching swimming, but not Zumba.
“Although my GBS journey has been a long and complicated one, doctors believe the symptoms have finally slowed, and my life should finally be getting back to normal,” she told The New York Daily News.
What is Guillain-Barré Syndrome?
According to the Mayo Clinic, GBS is when the body’s immune system attacks the nerves, causing muscle weakness, tingling, and paralysis that, as in Hindson’s case, can spread throughout the body.
The exact cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is unknown, but it is often preceded by an infectious illness such as a respiratory infection or the stomach flu. While Hindson first noticed her symptoms during a Zumba class, there is absolutely no evidence that exercise of any kind is a trigger for GBS.
The Mayo Clinic also says “there’s no known cure for Guillain-Barre syndrome, but several treatments can ease symptoms and reduce the duration of the illness. Most people recover from Guillain-Barre syndrome, though some may experience lingering effects from it, such as weakness, numbness or fatigue.”
What are the symptoms of GBS?
- Prickling, “pins and needles” sensations in your fingers, toes or both
- Weakness or tingling sensations in your legs that spread to your upper body
- Unsteady walking or inability to walk
- Difficulty with eye movement, facial movement, speaking, chewing or swallowing
- Severe pain in your lower back
- Difficulty with bladder control or intestinal functions
- Rapid heart rate
- Low or high blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
“GBS is a serious disease that requires immediate hospitalization because of the rapid rate at which it worsens,” the Mayo Clinic notes. “The sooner appropriate treatment is started, the better the chance of a good outcome.”
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