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A little help can make a big difference

A little help can make a big difference

(HealthDay News) --Having a chronic disease such as juvenile arthritis can be tough for a child. But family and friends can help them get through it, physically and emotionally.

Suggestions from the U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases include:

  • Get the best care possible. If possible, have a pediatric rheumatologist manage the child's care. Or, if such a specialist is not close by, try to have the child travel to see a specialist once or twice a year. That doctor could devise a treatment plan and consult with the child's regular doctor, who would monitor progress.
  • Learn as much as you can about treatment options. What works for one child might not work for another. If prescribed medications do not relieve symptoms or cause unpleasant side effects, discuss other choices with the doctor. Controlling symptoms is key to a more active, enjoyable life.
  • Insist that all shots or medications are taken. It can be difficult to give a child a weekly shot or insist that he or she take unpleasant medicine, but it's important to do so. But, if a child truly has a problem with one form of medication, talk to the doctor, who may be able to recommend a different medication or at least suggest ways to make taking it a little easier.
  • Consider joining a support group. Spending time with other parents and kids who face similar experiences can help everyone realize they're not alone. Ask the child's doctor for a list of support groups in your area.
  • Treat the child as normally as possible. Don't cut the child too much slack just because he or she has arthritis. Too much coddling can keep the child from becoming responsible and independent and can cause resentment among siblings.
  • Encourage exercise and physical therapy. They can play an important role in managing the disease by helping to keep the joints strong and flexible. Ask the child's doctor for a list of activities that would be beneficial.
  • Work closely with the child's school. Help the school develop a suitable lesson plan and help the child's teacher and classmates learn about juvenile arthritis. Some kids may be absent for prolonged periods and need to have assignments sent home. For others, some minor changes -- such as having an extra set of books to keep at home or leaving class a few minutes early to get to the next class on time -- can make a huge difference.
  • Talk with the child. Explain that getting juvenile arthritis is nobody's fault. (Some children believe that it's a punishment for something they did.) And make sure the child knows you're always available to listen and help in any way.
  • Work with therapists or social workers. They can often help children and their families adapt more easily to the lifestyle changes that juvenile arthritis may bring.



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