Guillain-Barré | El joven que estuvo atrapado en su propio cuerpo sin poder moverse ni comunicarse

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El Gobierno del Perú declaró en emergencia sanitaria cinco regiones en las cuales se ha presentado un incremento inusual de casos del síndrome Guillain-Barré (SGB): Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Junín y Lima. No se trata de una epidemia, sino de un brote.

En realidad, la enfermedad de no es nueva en el país. Cada año se registran entre 100 y 200 casos nuevos, según el Ministerio de Salud (Minsa). En lo que va de este año, ya se han registrado unos 200 casos.

Los principales síntomas de este mal son la debilidad o falta de fuerza, hormigueo en las manos y pies, así como dolor muscular generalizado. Si se detecta a tiempo, generalmente es muy tratable; sin embargo, en algunas ocasiones puede haber complicaciones.

En una de sus formas más violentas, el síndrome puede llevar al paciente a quedar paralizado de cuerpo completo, como en el caso de Terry Newberry, un galés que pasó 100 días hospitalizado sin poder moverse ni comunicarse pese a que en ningún momento perdió la conciencia. El doctor James Williams, especialista en cuidados intensivos y anestesia del hospital Royal Gwent de Newport, fue quien lo trató y contó el caso a la BBC.

Terry, ingeniero de comunicaciones de 31 años, padeció está enfermedad con tal intensidad que estuvo cerca de convertirse en una condición más severa aun llamada síndrome del enclaustramiento.

Llegó a estar casi completamente paralizado, pero él estaba despierto. Lo peor de todo era que tampoco podía comunicarse, es decir, estaba encerrado dentro de su propio cuerpo. El doctor Williams compara esta situación con una parálisis de sueño, una experiencia muy frecuente que consiste en la imposibilidad de moverse y hablar cuando se pasa del sueño a la vigilia, y que genera cierta angustia a quien lo padece, ya que suele ir acompañado de alucinaciones. “Es un lugar aterrador en el que estar”, dijo el médico.

El síndrome Guillain-Barré

Se trata de una enfermedad poco habitual que afecta a una de cada 100.000 personas. El SGB ocurre en respuesta a una infección que confunde al sistema inmune, incluso si la persona está sana.

Esto quiere decir que el sistema inmune confunde a los nervios con la infección, por lo que los ataca y les causa daño, provocando que ya no puedan enviar señales nerviosas normales y, por lo tanto, el paciente no pueda controlar el cuerpo.

Según explica el doctor Elmer Huerta, la inmunoglobulina intravenosa (IGIV) es un tratamiento eficaz y comprobado para el SGB; no obstante, en los casos más severos como el de Terry, la medicina solo sirve para apoyar a los órganos del paciente y mantenerlo vivo hasta que pueda recuperarse.

Actualmente, se desconoce la causa exacta del SGB; gran parte de los casos se presentan una o dos semanas después de una enfermedad diarreica o respiratoria producida por virus o bacterias. 

Se le ha relacionado con diferentes infecciones producidas por bacterias como el Campylobacter jejuni, o virus como el Citomegalovirus, virus de Epstein Barr, enterovirus, virus del zika, entre otros.

Comunicación con los doctores

 
Terry Newberry

Terry pudo comunicarse gracias a una tablet. (Foto: BBC)

Al doctor Williams le preocupaba mucho el daño psicológico que esta situación podría causar en su paciente. “Necesitábamos establecer una forma rápida y confiable de comunicación para ayudar a contrarrestarlo”, recuerda.

El galeno confiesa que tenía muchas ganas de conocer a Terry, pues, aunque lo había visto tantas veces, no sabía mucho de él ni de su carácter.

A pesar de estar paralizado casi por completo, los ojos de Terry todavía podían moverse, así que los médicos los aprovecharon como medio para poder entablar una comunicación. Luego de intentar con varios métodos, los médicos decidieron usar una Tablet para comenzar una comunicación visual.

Simplemente mirando la letra o palabra que quería, y pulsando un interruptor o descansando su mirada durante el tiempo suficiente, Terry podría seleccionar y escribir palabras y frases que veía en la pantalla. En cierta medida, esta tecnología le permitió “hablar” de nuevo.

Con el tiempo, el sistema inmunológico de Terry paró de atacar a sus nervios y su cuerpo empezó a reparar el daño. Una vez que sus músculos del pecho estuvieron mejor, se le pudo quitar el tubo de respiración, lo que le permitió hablar bien por primera vez en meses.

Finalmente, luego de pasar por rehabilitación, el joven galés pudo recuperarse.

Prevención

Las recomendaciones se centran, sobre todo, en tener una correcta higiene. El lavado de manos es fundamental, así como lavar bien las frutas y consumir alimentos hervidos. Además, si se presenta debilidad muscular en piernas o brazos, se recomienda acudir inmediatamente a un establecimiento de salud, pues así se recibirá un tratamiento oportuno y se disminuirán las secuelas que pueda dejar el síndrome. Este síndrome se puede curar si se detecta a tiempo.

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