Improving diagnosis and care for children with arthritis

The Hospital Research Foundation Group is pleased to be supporting two new projects focused on improving diagnosis and care for children with rheumatic diseases.

In Australia about 6000 children are affected by arthritis, making it as common as Type 1 diabetes.

Executive Director of The Hospital Research Foundation Group – Arthritis (formerly Arthritis SA), Adjunct Associate Professor Steve Morris, said the projects aimed to address the gaps in research and care for families.

“Children with juvenile arthritis can live in immense pain, often affecting their physical and social wellbeing,” Adj A/Prof Morris said.

“Diagnosis of juvenile idiopathic arthritis can be difficult because joint pain can be due to a number of causes, while the care journey for patients can sometimes be challenging.

“Our support for these projects aims to optimise the health and wellbeing of kids living with arthritis and their families, ensuring they receive the best care as early as possible and the support they need in managing their condition as they move into adulthood.”

The two projects, awarded $125,000 each, underwent a rigorous competitive application process. They include:

  • Advancing the imaging diagnosis of juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Dr Zhibin Liao – The University of Adelaide, Australian Institute for Machine Learning

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is the most common rheumatic disorder affecting children, however there is no specific diagnostic test for JIA.

This project will develop artificial intelligence technologies to analyse X-rays and MRI to detect JIA related changes such as joint damage. This will help clinicians and radiologists identify JIA more easily, leading to earlier intervention and preservation of joint integrity.

  • Optimising the transition of care for adolescents with juvenile rheumatic disease going into adult healthcare

Professor Catherine Hill – The University of Adelaide, Basil Hetzel Institute, CALHN
Dr Grainne Murray – Women’s & Children’s Health Network

When children with rheumatic disease (such as arthritis, lupus and dermatomyositis) reach adulthood, they transition from paediatric to adult healthcare. This can be challenging and individualised support is required.

This project aims to evaluate their needs, provide education and support (online and healthcare navigation), assist their readiness for transfer and improve healthcare outcomes.