Ryan was diagnosed in 2007 as having juvenile idiopathic polyarticular arthritis. He is currently participating in a medical trial for the drug’ tocilizumab.
Ryan originally hurt himself whilst playing football with friends. He was the goalkeeper and hit his knee on the floor whilst diving for the ball. Although Ryan only felt pain for a small amount of time, his knee became very swollen and he struggled to walk. Because the swelling was so severe, Ryan and his mum visited their GP. The GP referred Ryan to the hospital on an emergency basis. After several weeks of examinations and tests by different medical professionals, Ryan was diagnosed as having juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Ryan’s condition declined before it improved. He developed pain and swelling in eleven joints (including his toes, fingers, wrists, feet, knees and hips). He began taking oral methotrexate which made him sick. Ryan’s rheumatologist was also giving Ryan regular steroid injections in each of his swollen joints. Being in the hospital upset Ryan so it was agreed that his mum would try to inject Ryan with methotrexate at home. However, Ryan stopped coming home from school on the days that he was due his injection and missed several of them. Ryan’s condition got worse. His joints seized up and he was unable to get out of bed, wash, dress or feed himself without his mum’s help. Ryan could not attend school so a teacher came to his house during the day. Ryan saw his friends less and less.
Ryan’s condition improved after he was placed on a drug trial at his local hospital. He has a tocilizumab infusion once a month and over time the number of joints affected by Ryan’s arthritis has reduced from eleven to three. Ryan also has a physiotherapist who plays exercise games with him in a warm hydrotherapy pool. These exercises reduce the amount of stiffness Ryan feels in his joints each morning. Ryan is now back at school and is able to play outside with his friends again. His favourite subjects are maths, science and PE. Because his school specialises in PE, Ryan has opportunities to play different kinds of sport. On a good day Ryan enjoys playing volleyball and table tennis. When Ryan’s joints are flaring up he can join others in the region and play wheelchair basketball.