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Joel

Condition: Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Experience: Spring break of his senior year of college, Joel developed a mild upper respiratory infection. Several days later, Joel was in a coma and completely paralyzed. He had contracted a rare form of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an illness in which the immune system attacks the nerves throughout the body.

Fortunately, prognosis for recovery is often good for patients with Guillain-Barre. After inpatient therapy at The Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, Joel was breathing on his own, talking, and walking with a walker and leg braces. Once his inpatient therapy goals were met, Joel was sent home with hope that participating in an outpatient physical therapy program close to home could help him continue in his recovery.

Joel’s therapists in his hometown of Roanoke, VA had never treated anyone with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. They were unsure how to work with Joel and gave him no other options. Luckily a close family friend knew of The Gait Center, where therapists give patients an hour of undivided attention at each appointment and focus on helping those with complex problems.  So Joel began making the 3 hour drive each week to The Gait Center in Richmond, VA. He progressed from falling three times a day, despite wearing leg braces for support, to hiking and running 5K’s with the skilled attention of The Gait Center staff. “What makes The Gait Center different is a mix of caring and expertise,” Joel says. This mix was the perfect recipe for Joel’s success.

Personal interests: Soccer, rugby, hiking

“David doesn’t have an overwhelming caseload, so he can focus on the patient. He doesn’t spend the whole time looking at a computer screen.”