Programs offer education, recreation GLEN BURNIE

COPING WITH ARTHRITIS

April 28, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

When North Arundel Hospital offered a free lecture earlier this month on living with arthritis, 130 people packed the conference room.

The turnout, one of the largest in the history of the hospital's community outreach series, surprised organizers.

"I think everyone here was saying, 'Wow, I didn't think there'd be that much interest,' " said Barbara Sale, director of physical therapy and rehabilitation services. "It verified for me that there is a need."

The hospital is embarking on several outpatient programs to help arthritis sufferers manage life with the often-painful disease that restricts motion.

It will be the second area hospital to use the Arthritis Foundation's four programs, said Lauren Grap, program director of the Arthritis Foundation in Baltimore. Children's Hospital in Baltimore is also participating.

People with severe arthritis often get physical therapy. But when treatment ends, "they stop doing the things that helped maintain them. They have no structure," Ms. Sale said. The programs the hospital has planned are designed to provide that structure and complement each other.

Starting in June, North Arundel Hospital will offer the gentle floor exercise routine called PACE, People with Arthritis Can Exercise. The hour-long sessions will run twice a week for six weeks.

"It's a community recreation-based type of program. It's not an actual therapeutic service," Ms. Sale said.

That will be followed by a "how-to class" in July -- a series of six two-hour classes on how to cope with arthritis in everyday life.

Meanwhile, a free support group run through the North Arundel Hospital Professional Center will start in June, meeting once a month.

A 12-week water exercise program will start in August. The program will be held at the Anne Arundel Community College pool.

Classes will cost up to about $30, Ms. Sale said.

The Arthritis Foundation estimates that about 60,200 Anne Arundel County residents suffer from arthritis.

The two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The former results from bodily wear and tear and is often associated with older people. It causes painful swelling of the joints. The latter is a systemic illness that frequently affects the skin and other organs and tends to be more disabling. Its victims also tend to be younger.

Depending on the response, the Glen Burnie hospital may offer each of its programs up to four times a year, Ms. Sale said.

Karen Krug, vice president for education and services at the Arthritis Foundation, said the two exercise programs help to increase stamina, joint flexibility and strength, while the others are informative.

The programs have another benefit, she said. They reduce isolation and depression. When arthritis sufferers "can't continue other activities, they tend to let those things isolate them."

She cautioned that such programs are not meant to replace medical care.

Enhancing community offerings is a benefit to any organization because it attracts community members, Ms. Krug added.

People who attend the recreational programs might seek out the hospital's medical services as well, Ms. Sale said.

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