Tablet Helped Patient “Attached to One’s Own Body” Facing Illness

Because of Guillain-Barre syndrome, Terry could only communicate through the eyes, and when I could open them; check out a report from doctors

Terry was more than 100 days in the hospital and, for the most part, I couldn’t move because of a syndrome

Have you ever had the feeling of waking up from a deep sleep unable to move, speak or even react? This type of event is called “sleep paralysis” and is common to one out of every 20 people. But normal is that the feeling is limited to a few minutes. And when she stays for days, weeks or months?

It would be like if you were awake and fully aware of what’s going on, but unable to move any part of the body. As if you were completely paralysed–but awake.

Terry was so when I met him, shortly after the first signs of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a disease in which the immune system attacks the nerve cells of the body, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. Several countries that have had outbreaks of Zika, including Brazil, have reported an increase in cases of the disease.

Among the symptoms of the syndrome is weakness of arms and legs; in more severe cases, there may be damage to the respiratory muscles. The symptoms can last for months. The Agency of diseases and medicines from USA explains that most patients recover fully, although the SGB may cause death.

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The case of Welsh Terry was extreme: the 31-year-old communications engineer suffered this disease so intense that was close to developing an even more serious condition: call Enclosure syndrome.

In other words, because of the SGB, the immune system confuses the nerves with the infection and attacks-causing serious damage. As a result, patients can no longer send nerve signals in the same way and lose control over your own body. The disease has several stages, and the almost complete paralysis of Terry was in one of the most rare extremes.

The doctor James Williams treated Terry Newberry to ease your suffering with Guillain-Barre syndrome

No there is no “magic” cure to this illness. Therapies can speed up recovery, but the base of treatment for severe cases is simply to support the patient’s organs and keep them alive until they can recover. Terry spent more than 100 days in the hospital until it was sufficiently well.


A muscle palsy so severe not just the movement of the person, but also your ability to communicate. Terry has more or less my age and it caught my attention the rapidity with which lost basic skills of communication. It’s a scary situation.

We were very concerned about the psychological damage it could cause. We needed to combat that quickly and reliably.

I wanted to do whatever possible to help alleviate his suffering. It was a rare situation that we knew so little of the personality of a patient after treatment so long-I had a great desire to get to know him better and know more about it.

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The SGB would leave Terry with only eye movements–that was our only channel of communication. The team of speech therapists and audiologists was already involved in this and was trying to find ways to communicate with him–raising the lids of the eyes and asking questions, for example.

If Terry answered looking right, I wanted to say Yes. If I did looking at the left, wanted to say no. It seems very simple, but the muscles of the eyes of Terry if he’s tired easily and open your eyelids, your eyes exposed to a blinding light, since your usual State was the darkness.

Many times, he didn’t answer simply because I was asleep. So I thought of a more efficient technological solution.

Speaking with the eyes

We decided to invest in something, such as using a tablet to communicate by eye contact via liuxers. This device uses a grid with the alphabet on the screen and cameras as a visual to accompany the sight of Terry-while he was able to open his eyes spontaneously.

Gradually, Terry was able to recover the movements, as your immune system stopped attacking the nerves

Simply looking at the letter or the word you wanted and thus pressing the switch, or resting your eyes long enough, Terry could select or write words and sentences.

It was a breakthrough, especially for their therapists. So Terry could, in a way, “to speak” again. Over time, your immune system stopped attacking your nerves and your body has started to recover the damage caused.

Once your chest muscles got bigger, we could take the breathing tube and this allowed him to speak for the first time in months. It was clear that Terry had significantly improved your way of expressing yourself, and feel relieved to be able to communicate.

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The body of Terry follows improving and gaining strength as he continues to rehab, now out of the hospital. The treatment I was surprised by the use of technology to meet the fundamental need of the human being-which is communicate. The value and the recoverability of Terry were awesome. It was a real lesson that silence was also a major force.

* James Williams is a consultant of anesthesia and intensive care

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