If and when you get a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis it's something you will have forever. If you are lucky, you'll respond to medication but a lot of people aren't that lucky. Here's more on how occupational therapy is helping people, including Nancy Swain, cope with R.A.
Nancy Swain says, "It just hit me. One day I woke up with extreme pain in my wrists. It felt like I'd been hit by a truck. Everything hurt. My hands and feet were the worst at first and really all my joints, but I'm one of the lucky ones because I am responding well to the medication."
In August of 2007, right before Nancy turned 51, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. A painful, debilitating and sometimes disfiguring disease that causes swelling in the joints.
Nancy says, "At the point I was diagnosed I felt like I couldn't do anything it just, everything hurt. I couldn't do a lot of what I had been doing and so therapy helped me see I could still do things I just needed to do them differently. It helped to develop a relationship with Theresa because she made me believe in life after R.A."
Nancy says working with Avera Occupational Therapist Theresa Parish with Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation has helped immensely. Everyday activities like making a bed or cooking dinner have to be done differently.
Theresa says, "it's the little things we do everyday that can actually have a big impact on our future, especially rheumatoid arthritis. The more dangerous things we do with our day to day activity like opening a jar turning your wrist can actually be really detrimental to the joints in our hand and you won't see that until later. If we can teach joint protection principles early on, before the deformities occur then it can really enhance their life and their activities."
Teresa and the National Arthritis Foundation recommend using fat pens for two reasons, they are easier to hold and easier on your hands plus when you drop it (and you know you will) it will be easier to pick up. Nancy uses a reacher to grab things so she doesn't have to bend over. She bends at the knees and it's easier on the joints.
Nancy says, "I've always been active and healthy so it's been hard to comprehend something like this could just stop me in my tracks and affect the rest of my life. I'm real thankful to learn new things to help me long term."