First year medical students at Merthyr’s new Academic Centre have been given the opportunity to use an ‘arthritis suit’ one of only three in the UK – to give them an insight into what it is like living with the condition. The suit created by the School of Design at Loughborough University simulates joint stiffness, pain, and difficulty carrying out everyday tasks.
The students were able to experience first-hand how osteoarthritis feels, how it can affect various parts of the body and also the impact on daily living.
Byoung-In Min, a 19 year old medical student from Bridgend tried the suit and said: “I didn’t expect normal everyday living to be that difficult for patients with osteoarthritis.”
During the teaching session, the students were able to speak to and examine a local Volunteer Instructor Patient (VIP) with arthritic symptoms.
Duncan Soppitt – also a medical student from Bristol said: “It was an insight to see what it is like to live with arthritis.”
Aled Falvey and Rhian Williams, Extended Scope Physiotherapists at Cwm Taf University Health Board were instrumental in arranging the demonstration of the suit by Stannah.
Aled contacted Stannah after he read about the suit on-line. Aled and Rhian had been involved in a similar session with medical students last year and knew that access to the suit would improve any future teaching sessions.
Aled said: “I think it is great that, as a physiotherapist, we can help develop a culture of multi-disciplinary working and take a holistic approach.
“The session provided the students with a unique opportunity to speak to a real patient as well as experience some of the symptoms and difficulties that patients have to deal with, which will help them develop more empathy throughout their medical training and future careers.