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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
OxPARC

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Tips for school

What changes can be made at school to make my life easier?

If you have arthritis in your neck

  • Make sure your chair faces the teacher so that you don't need to keep turning your head.
  • Use an angled work surface so you don't need to bend your neck so far to write or read.

If you have arthritis in your arms, hands or wrists

  • Short rests from writing, and stretching your hands every 15 – 20 minutes, are beneficial. This may mean that we need to request extra time for you to rest during exams.
  • Your teacher may be able to provide you with handouts or access to a laptop to reduce the amount of writing.
  • If writing is a problem, you may benefit from a built-up pencil grip or thicker pen to reduce the strain on the joints of your hand.
  • If your wrist is very painful or weak you may benefit from a wrist splint for support.
  • Using a locker or having two sets of handbooks (one at home and one in your classroom) will reduce the amount of books you need to carry.
  • A backpack carried on both shoulders or using a case on wheels is recommended.

If you have arthritis in your legs

  • If your arthritis is slowing you down a lot, you may need to leave a lesson early to get to the next on time and avoid the rush, especially on the stairs.
  • You may need a chair or cushion during assembly if sitting on the floor is causing you a lot of pain and stiffness.

P.E.

We recommend as much participation in sports activity as possible, as it develops you socially and physically.

  • Most activities improve strength and stamina and do not harm the joints, but day-to-'day variation in stiffness and pain may prevent full participation.
  • High impact sports may not be appropriate when the disease is active.
  • Swimming is especially recommended.
  • Inclusion as a referee, or in some other way, avoids exclusion from team events.
  • Extra time may be needed for undressing and dressing.
  • Our physiotherapists are happy to advise on the form and level of activity.

What can I do about my handwriting?

Sitting upright, with your feet flat on the floor, is very important.  If your chair is too high we recommend that you put a block or old telephone book under your feet.

Make sure your table is not too high or too low.  Ideally you want the table to be approximately one/two inches above your elbow when seated.

Try not to lean forward too much. You want your nose to be a ruler length (30cm) above your page.

Holding your pen/pencil between the tip of your thumb and index finger and resting it on your middle finger is recommended, if possible. This position allows movement in the hand, so that you use more muscles and joints. This helps you not to get tired so quickly. Your occupational therapist would be happy to offer you advice on your pencil grip.

Stretch regularly, and have a short rest from writing every 15-20 minutes.

A soft built-up pencil grip can be purchased at the hospital to reduce the strain on the joints of your hand.  A thicker pen/pencil will also help with this.