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Psychiatrist finds a sanctuary when hit with rare disease

Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center |

With a busy psychiatry practice, Brian Esparza, M.D., spends his days helping people in difficult situations. However, when afflicted with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder rare that left him completely paralyzed, he found that he was the one who needed help.

“Such a hopeless period,” says Brian, who maintained complete mental ability despite his paralysis. “You feel so helpless. You have all these thoughts about ‘what if this doesn’t get better?’”

Fortunately, he found comfort and inspiration during almost a month at the Legacy Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon. “It was my sanctuary. I learned to walk there, so it is a huge place in my life.”

Brian found special motivation from a young staffer at RIO who had suffered from Guillain-Barre syndrome and recovered fully (most people with GB do regain their movement). “Just seeing that was very inspirational,” Brian says.

Brian also found that the therapists and other professionals at Legacy RIO accepted the ambitious focus he brought to recovery. “They were OK that I tried to push it faster. They aligned my goals with theirs,” says Brian, who did recover.