You Are Not Alone
Who Can Help?
Ideally, a team of health professionals is best suited to take care of children with JSpA. They will assist the pediatrician or family doctor in the evaluation and management of the disease. Members of the team can include: Pediatric Rheumatologists, Nurses, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Social Worker or Psychologist, and Nutritionists.
During the course of care of JSpA, youth may require the services of a number of other physicians. This group might include the ophthalmologist, who would generally see them for diagnosing and treating iritis (eye inflammation characterized by acute eye pain and redness). Doctors who specialize in rehabilitative care can assist with reaching functional goals through prescribing more intensive fitness programs, and/or specialized equipment.
The pediatric rheumatologist is a physician with highly specialized training and experience in the care of children with rheumatic diseases like JSpA. In the United States, most pediatric rheumatologists are found at university medical centers and medical schools.
In most medical centers, the health care team includes a nurse with special experience in the care of children with arthritis. The nurse generally has a central role in educating the child, the family, and often the child’s school about JSpA.
Good nutrition is critically important for any child with a chronic illness. Children with JSpA are at risk for becoming overweight because of decreased physical activity. Unfortunately, extra weight can also worsen the symptoms of the illness by producing more stress on affected joints.
A major focus of the occupational therapists is to ensure that the child can perform well physically in school and with daily activities. In addition, the occupational therapist will teach the child and the family how to adapt to activities of daily living so that the child with severe joint disease can still function independently.
The physical therapist will evaluate joint motion, strength, and posture. The therapist also has the responsibility to develop exercise programs for the child to be carried out at home or with a local therapist. Most physical therapists also maintain contact with physical education teachers in the school system, so that the most appropriate program will be undertaken in school for the child with JSpA.
The potential stress of JSpA on the child and the family should never be taken lightly. Children may perceive themselves as different from their peers even if their disease is not severe. They may be even more upset if JSpA limits their activities significantly. Therefore, children and families should have ready access to psychological experts, such as child psychologists and social workers, who have experience in the evaluation and care of chronically ill children.