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For parents

What is the Rheumatology Service? 

At Bristol Children's hospital the rheumatology service works to assess and manage patients with a wide range of conditions, both inflammatory and non-inflammatory in nature. 

The main conditions that we see are outlined below:

  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (including - systemic, polyarticular, oligoarticular, enthesitis-related, psoriatic)
  • Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM)
  • Scleroderma
  • Lupus (SLE)
  • Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis (CRMO)
  • Hypermobility
  • Mechanical pain

The rheumatology physiotherapists mainly see patients as outpatients at Bristol Children's hospital but also see rheumatology patients if they are admitted to hospital for treatment or rehabilitation. We also cover consultant clinics and some children are referred for Physiotherapy advice when they attend these clinics. 

We work closely with a multi-disciplinary team including consultants, nursing staff, psychologist and occupational therapist. 

We accept referrals from all members of the multidisciplinary team and support our Physiotherapy colleagues working throughout the southwest in the management of children with rheumatology conditions. 

What might physiotherapy involve? 

Patients who are seen with inflammatory conditions need careful management within the multidisciplinary team to integrate medical and therapeutic care.

  • Patients are normally seen within the Physiotherapy outpatients department but sometimes within consultant clinics.  We try where possible, especially if patients are not local to Bristol, to combine Physiotherapy appointments with other hospital appointments.
  • A full and detailed assessment is carried out to determine how the rheumatology condition is affecting the child.  This will include looking at how well the joints of the body are moving; how strong the muscles are; the walking pattern; balance; and discussions regarding function and participation in exercise/exercise tolerance.
  • Outcome measures are used to track progress throughout treatment and patients are continually reassessed throughout the course of treatment to monitor their response and condition.
  • Treatments used may include:
  • stretching and mobilising joints and muscles
  • muscle strengthening
  • balance activities
  • gait re-education (improving walking pattern)
  • Hydrotherapy
  • A home exercise programme is given to continue at home between sessions to ensure continued progress.  We can also liaise with local therapists; schools and nurseries as needed to offer advice on management of conditions.
  • We can also make onward referrals to other members of the team such as occupational therapy or psychology and other services such as orthotics or wheelchair services if needed.

Physiotherapy Contact

  • Ginny Ward - 0117 342 8525

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