Consumer Forum Summary:
Arthritis vs. You: Who’s Winning?

Since 2010, ENACT has partnered with the New England chapter of the Arthritis Foundation to deliver community forums to people who wish to become physically active but experience difficulty or don’t know how because of arthritis pain or symptoms.  These forums typically consist of educational, motivational, demonstration, and participatory elements.  By joining with other local consumer advocacy chapters such as the Lupus Foundation and Scleroderma foundation as well as local faith-based organizations, the reach of these programs has been extended to individuals with other rheumatic conditions who experience similar barriers, such as pain and fatigue. 

Below is a summary of one of these programs:

On a Saturday in April, forty members of the Peoples Baptist Church in Roxbury, MA came together for a community forum sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation and ENACT.  The forum, titled “Arthritis vs. You: Who’s Winning?,” kicked off with a welcome from member and Health Ministry leader Alveta Haynes along with Reverend Jean-Luc Charles of PBC who provided an invocation and led the group in a song.

The first speaker, Dr. Michael S. Thompson, MD, Senior Orthopedic Surgeon at Lahey Clinic with a specialization in joint replacement surgery, presented “Treatments of Arthritis of the Hip and Knee,” which included an overview of arthritis and a detailed discussion of joint replacement surgery. Audience members had a chance to view images of actual joint replacements and ask questions about the procedure.

 

“I learned that I have to do more to manage my arthritis. I will try to exercise more and manage my pain so that I can stay active.”

– Selma Johnson, Participant

 

The next speaker, Dr. Maura Iversen, Professor and Chairperson, Department of Physical Therapy, Northeastern University, spoke on “Winning Strategies for Managing Osteoarthritis.” Dr. Iverson reviewed several important concepts in managing osteoarthritis, such as protecting your joints and using adaptive equipment to stay active. She emphasized the importance of keeping physically active and offered may suggestions about how to stay physically active. Dr. Iversen noted that many research studies have demonstrated that exercise can have the same benefits as some medications in reducing pain and other symptoms.

 

“I’m going to start an exercise program. I’ll use the stairs instead of the elevator. I’m going to start slowly and just keep working on doing a little more every day.”

– Lucille Lewis, Participant

 

Finally, Julie Keysor, Director of the Center for Enhancing Activity and Participation (ENACT) at Boston University’s Sargent College joined Alveta Haynes in a panel discussion titled “It Worked for Me! Real-live Stories about Thriving with Osteoarthritis.” Both shared stories about how they not only learned to live with arthritis while staying active but how staying active positively.

Before leaving, all participants received pedometers to measure number of steps taken each day with a goal of increasing the number of steps gradually.  With these tools in hand, participants reported feeling confident and motivated to begin a physical activity program that could ultimately enhance participation in all areas of their daily lives.

 

“This was the first of a series of consumer forms that ENACT and the Arthritis Foundation will be offering in the Boston area, targeting minority and under-served communities in particular. What a great way to start! Dr. Thompson and Dr. Iversen both gave superb talks, full of useful information. Our colleague Alveta Haynes—who’s a member of the Peoples Baptist Church as well as an Arthritis Foundation volunteer and member of the ENACT advisory board–not only paved the way for us to hold the program at PBC and did a lot of behind-the-scenes work, but was a wonderful host for the event. She and Julie Keysor were both down-to-earth and inspirational as co-panelists telling their own stories of living with OA.  Thank you to Alveta, Julie and all the ENACT staff, and everyone else who made the program happen. I look forward to our next program!

– Judith Levine, Arthritis Foundation New England Chapter