National Reyes Syndrome Foundation UK

Second level navigation header

Life After Reye's Syndrome or a Reye-Like Illness

What are the potential neurological problems of the survivor

Reye's syndrome or a Reye-like illness can result in brain damage and disability in some survivors. If damage occurs, it can range from slight to profound, depending on the individual case.

Rehabilitation will range from minimal medical intervention to residential care. Since there is such a wide range of possibilities, and since these possibilities are to a certain extent unpredictable, parents need to become aware of the potential problems and the appropriate services that may be required. Early evaluation following physiological recovery should be pursued for the purpose of identifying problems and beginning any appropriate educational rehabilitation and/or therapy.

Specific problem areas which may be observed include the following:-

  • Problems with attention
  • Problems with memory
  • Problems with vision
  • Problems with hearing
  • Difficulties with concentration
  • Speech and language difficulties
  • Problems with fine or gross motor skills
  • Changes in the child’s activity level
  • Problems with task completion
  • Increased level of dependency
  • Difficulties in swallowing, chewing
  • Difficulties with toilet needs
  • Difficulties in dressing

Any specific problems may occur individually or in combination with others. Any or all of the above may manifest themselves in learning or academic problems. For example, a change in academic performance may reflect a change in the ability to attend or to concentrate on a task. Difficulty with maths, spelling, writing or reading may occur.

A pre-existing learning problem may become more severe following Reye’s syndrome or a Reye-like illness. Also some survivors may appear immediately upon recovery to have no residual effects: however, problems may later be observed in the areas mentioned above.

Check that you have an early appointment with a local paediatrician who should know what services are available locally. He or she should help to organise both evaluation and therapy, and is also the source of information to the educational authorities. Under the terms of the 1993 Education Act they have a responsibility to make the necessary arrangements for children with special educational needs and/or behavioural problems. The process should take no more than six months.

Evaluation for learning disabilities requires a multi-disciplinary team consisting of the child’s paediatrician, neurologist, psychologist, educationalist, the family and possibly others such as a speech therapist, physiotherapist and occupational therapist. Such evaluation can be requested by the parent through the local authority.