Juvenile Arthritis currently affects 250,000 children under the age of 16 in the U.S. alone. Juvenile Arthritis has several forms, all of which are chronic autoimmune diseases. The body of the young sufferer attacks its own healthy tissues and cells, causing mild to severe symptoms that may be progressive through adulthood. In all cases of Juvenile Arthritis the joints are inflamed or altered in some way, from pain and stiffness, to altered growth and deformity. An early diagnosis of your youngster is key in mapping out a plan that will best serve them and their form of arthritis. It is crucial to find a doctor or specialist that will guide your child and the entire family through the road that may lie ahead. As a parent, you likely make health decisions for your child that will best help them battle this debilitating disease. As they grow older though, they need to take on some of the decision making process. Parents and healthcare providers need to insure that they transition over to proactive thinkers in their disease.
A recent report in Arthritis Care & Research confirmed that many Juvenile Arthritis patients are not receiving the transitional care that is critically needed. Dr. Peter Scal of the University of Minnesota suggests that less than half of arthritic children receive the guidance that would be beneficial to their situation. His team used information from the “2005-2006 National Survey of Children with Special Needs” to evaluate children with Juvenile Arthritis and their responses to questions regarding transitional counseling. Dr. Scal claims that the children need more information and knowledge of how they will tackle issues that may present themselves in the future, such as personal health insurance, treatment plans, medications, coping practices, counseling, available resources, and self care.
You may want to talk to you child’s doctor to find out how you can help in the transition to adult arthritis and ask them how they plan to assist you in the endeavor. A good plan made in advance may be vital to your child’s health and well being, and may make them feel more secure in what the future holds for them.