Mt Wilga Private Rehabilitation Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care


Mt Wilga rehab patient aims to compete in a triathlon following a rare neurological condition

Jul 29, 2015

Mt Wilga Private Hospital is well known for caring for people who require neurological rehabilitation for conditions such as strokes, brain and spinal cord injuries and tumours. However, Mt Wilga also treats people who suffer from rare neurological disorders including Guillain-Barre Syndrome or GBS which is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system and may affect both motor and sensory control. The cause of GBS is not known but usually follows a viral or bacterial infection and men are more likely to be affected.

Tim Pickering was a fit 40 year old fire-fighter with the RAAF and an ironman triathlete when he succumbed to this life threatening condition. On the 4th February this year, Tim started to suffer joint pain with fever, pins and needles, muscle weakness and as his condition quickly deteriorated, he was diagnosed with GBS.

For 103 days Tim was in ICU at a western Sydney hospital with respiratory failure, worsening neuromuscular weakness, neuropathic pain and restriction in upper and lower limb movement. Whilst in ICU, not only was Tim intubated but also treated with plasmapheresis, a common therapy used in treating auto-immune disorders.

On the 28th May this year, Tim was transferred to Mt Wilga under the care of Dr Murat Acar to begin the rehabilitation phase of his journey. Dr Acar says, “Tim has been working with his rehab team of nurses, physios, exercise physiologists and occupational therapists to regain his strength and mobility that he lost so significantly. Tim’s long term goal is to run an Ironman Triathlon in Germany in July 2016 and also do the Kokoda Track so he and the team have been very busy with intensive physical therapy and we are seeing improvements in his overall condition. Furthermore, Tim’s exceptionally positive mental attitude during this process is exemplary for any patient recovering from a disabling condition and it is particularly rewarding for our team to be working with him in his recovery in this way.”

According to the Brain Foundation of Australia, 80 to 90% of patients make a full recovery from GBS but may take around a year to recover. When Tim came to Mt Wilga he couldn’t sit, stand or walk without support of at least two therapists. After 6 weeks at Mt Wilga he can now sit by himself and stand and walk with minimal supervision. Tim also had significant upper limb weakness and is working hard with his OTs to rely less on others when it comes to showering and dressing and all aspects of everyday living.

Tim says “without my rehabilitation team here at Mt Wilga, I don’t think my milestones would have happened as quickly and it’s great to see my strength and mobility coming back. It’s a long recovery but I have a great team and my physio Ian has already said he will do the first Sydney based triathlon with me, so that’s a pretty good incentive to get well again”.

For more information on GBS head to the GBS Association of NSW website on

For more information on this release, contact or (02) 9847 5256 (Wednesday and Thursday)

Representing Australia at the World Triathlon Championships in Auckland in 2012 Mt Wilga physio

Before Tim’s GBS diagnosis, representing Australia at the World Triathlon Championships in Auckland in 2012 (Left) and this week with his Mt Wilga physio, Ian Riach (Right)