About the Project

In the Netherlands, about 2500 children are affected with chronic juvenile arthritis (abbreviated as JIA). The onset of the disease ranges between 2 and 16 years. This disease in part resembles its adult counterpart, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). But clinical presentation, disease course, therapeutic approaches and complications are different from RA.

In children with chronic arthritis normal development, social participation, education and future professional possibilities are often impaired due to chronic pain, physical impairment due to arthritis (joint inflammation) and frequent school absence. The current medical care focusses mainly on medication and disease control. Health care professionals acknowledge the importance of education, active lifestyle and societal participation. However, at present there is no clear strategy available to achieve this in children with chronic arthritis.

In this project on frailty and resilience in JIA, Prof. Dr. Nico Wulffraat, pediatric rheumatologist at Wilhemina Children’s Hospital, UMC in Utrecht, aims to develop specific tools that will help individual patients to improve physical endurance, advice on educational possibilities and job perspectives that match their individual condition. We hypothesize that this will improve an active life style, patients’ self- management, and ultimately their quality of life.

The Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital (WKZ) is located in the middle of the Netherlands, in Utrecht. Founded in 1888, the center has a longstanding reputation with respect to scientific research: “BRAIN” research is one of its strategic research programs, as is “Child Health”. Both research foci are especially committed to translational research on the edge of experimental research and clinical application. This emphasizes the social relevance of research and health care innovation. The WKZ is a large clinical center, responsible for a region of 2,4 Million people and 25'000 births yearly. Our neonatal intensive care unit admits nearly 600 babies every year, whereas another 600 are admitted to the high and medium care units.

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