A measure of a civilised society is how it treats its disadvantaged minorities. Juvenile arthritis affects perhaps one child in 1000, so we have about 800 sufferers in the country as a whole.
This week Bryan Waddle introduced our speaker, Rachel Callear, daughter-in-law of member Les. Rachel is a Paediatric Rheumatology Physiotherapist at Hutt Hospital. where she works in a team of three with a doctor and nurse.
Juvenile arthritis is idiopathic - it has no known cause, although it may be genetic. Onset is typically at age one to two. An early sign is that the child stops walking.
In the past, it was treated with aspirin and steroids, and exercise such as hydrotherapy. More recently better drugs have arrived such as Methotrexate and biologics, and outcomes have been much improved.
Prior to 1990, there was no specialist paediatric rheumatologist in NZ but there is now an established service running out of Starship and Hutt hospitals, which covers almost the whole country on an outreach basis.
Plimmerton girl, Lauree, made a video showing how she copes with her condition. She was diagnosed at one year and was treated with joint injections, which worked well, but it flared up again at age seven. She has since been treated with biologics and is coping well at fourteen.
Rachel travels the country helping juvenile arthritis sufferers, which obviously gives her great satisfaction. A most interesting talk, well-illustrated and not overly technical.