Physical Activity to Decrease Fatigue after GBS

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Exploring effects of activity coaching on fatigue for people with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)

Even when people have made a good recovery after GBS, up to 60-80% of people report that they continue to experience fatigue which significantly limits their every day functioning. We are trialing an online activity coaching programme to see if we can address this.

In other neurological conditions, there is evidence that regular physical activity can reduce fatigue, however the application of this research to GBS is less clear. There is some evidence that aerobic training is effective in increasing physical fitness for people with GBS however none of the studies published to date have focused on changing persistent fatigue in individuals who have reached their expected recovery. Previous studies have used supervised exercise sessions in tertiary care centres, which is often both impracticable for people with GBS and does not address the sustained behaviour change needed to form lifelong physical activity habits. In the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic, telerehabilitation is the preferred mode of delivery to limit transmission, but it also has the advantage of being able to reach rural populations more easily than traditional forms of delivery that involve face to face contact.

We have designed a limited contact (maximum of 6 hours) telerehabilitation (all contact made by phone and/or videoconferencing) intervention based on behavioural change principles. A physiotherapist will customise the intervention based on each participant’s goals and their contextual factors (eg their level of fatigue, current fitness level, resources and support available). The physiotherapist will meet (remotely) with each participant weekly and will use relevant behavioural change techniques from a menu of options .

We are using a single system design to investigate the effectiveness of the intervention to reduce fatigue in 10 people who have had GBS more than two years previously. We are exploring also participants' perspectives of acceptability and feasibility of the intervention through qualitative interviews. If this intervention is found to be acceptable, feasible and effective, it is extremely likely to be relevant to other neurological conditions where fatigue is a significant and persistent factor.

For more information, or if you are interested in taking part, you can call Greta on 09 921 9999 ext 7676 , email or you can download the information sheet.

Resources related to this project

Participant information sheet

Project details

Neuromuscular Research Foundation; AUT Faculty Research Development Fund

Principal investigator:
Dr Suzie Mudge

Research team:
Dr Suzie Mudge, Dr Gareth Parry, Greta Smith


May 2001 – December 2022

Current status: Recruiting