From paralysis to sport in one year, thanks to a rehabilitation program made up of some drugs and a lot of physiotherapy. On the eve of the World Day dedicated to this discipline, from Pesaro comes the story of the “extraordinary recovery” of Giuseppe, a passionate sixty-year-old amateur runner, assisted in the Villa Fastiggi rehabilitation center, Kos Group.
Giuseppe arrived there in September 2022. He could not stand or walk – a note reconstructs – he could not breathe on his own and was fed via a nasogastric tube. He presented with flaccid tetraparesis, with all four limbs paralyzed. He retained only some head movements and minimal hints of movement in one hand and feet. Bedridden, his muscles were losing volume and strength throughout his body. Severe respiratory failure forced him to have a tracheostomy tube and mechanical ventilation with oxygen therapy. A critical picture resulting from a particularly aggressive form of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare rapidly evolving acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, but in clinical practice the most frequent form of acute paraparesis, which can occur in both childhood and advanced age and in both sexes, with a slight preponderance in the female sex.
In more than half of cases, Guillain-Barré appears suddenly after a respiratory or gastrointestinal infection, or immunization. In the most widespread forms, acute and generalized weakness tends to resolve spontaneously in a few months, but in the most severe forms it can lead to permanent effects or death due to respiratory, cardiovascular or infectious complications. “With Mr Giuseppe we made the decision not to give up”, says Sara Loriga, geriatrician at Villa Fastiggi. “From the moment we received him we immediately worked with the entire rehabilitation group, physiotherapists, speech therapists, neuropsychologist – he explains – to create a tailor-made rehabilitation program and we insisted on prolonging the immunoglobulin pharmacological treatment. We always kept under we strictly control super-infections, which in these patients tend to worsen the prognosis, but above all we supported his courage and his desire to recover. He was still alert, his cognitive functions were intact and he made us understand that he wanted to make it” .
“For the 6 months of rehabilitation – say Giulia Baglioni and Pamela Diotallevi, physiotherapists at Villa Fastiggi – Mr. Giuseppe showed consistency in his exercises, strength and determination in adversity that were truly out of the ordinary. This attitude of his played an important role in his extraordinary recovery. He has certainly applied his runner’s mentality, made up of concentration, patience and self-discipline, also to his rehabilitation.”
This is how Giuseppe left the Pesaro facility on his own two feet last February, against all expectations. Today he mentions a few short jogs, but he is not yet ready to resume competitive activity. He opted for the bicycle, which allows him to move a little more.
“I always remained lucid – he says – I felt great suffering and great concern for my future. Pamela and Giulia, my two physiotherapists, I remember them as two little angels: first in bed because I was paralysed, then slowly up to the gym, I they reported, exercise after exercise in walking: a very tough journey, which fortunately has a happy ending. I still have a dream in my drawer, however: to experience the thrill and happiness of running races again.”