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Not just the joints—treating Juvenile Arthritis

RavelliDr. Angelo Ravelli is considered an international expert in the field of pediatric rheumatology, which affects 50,000 kids across the country. An Italian native, he is traveling halfway across the globe to present his knowledge and research findings with the medical staff here at Children’s of Alabama. We asked Dr. Ravelli what he hoped to share with our clinicians that would in turn help the families they serve.
Here is what he had to say:

Q. What is the one thing you wish people outside of the medical field knew about Juvenile Arthritis?
A. In my view, people should know that although there has been an enormous progress in the care of children with JIA [Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis] in the last decade and that frequency and severity of permanent disease-related damage has diminished markedly, this illness still causes a considerable burden to children and their families, owing to its protracted course, tendency to flare after treatment discontinuation, potential to induce pain and functional limitations and impact on quality of life related not only to clinical symptoms, but also to the need of long-term administration of medication therapies.

Q: What drew you to pediatric rheumatology?
A: I chose to join the general pediatrics residency program at the University of Pavia, Italy, in 1981, just when the rheumatology program was starting. I then became a pediatric rheumatologist by chance, because the chairmen of the Pediatric Department assigned me to that program. Then, I fell in love with this subspecialty and kept practicing it for the rest of my medical career.

Q. What is your biggest hope for parents and families who are dealing with JIA on a daily basis? Do you think that one day there will be a cure?
A: Nowadays we are able to reach remission or, at least, a satisfactory control of disease activity in most, if not all, children with JIA. In my opinion, the priority in daily clinical care of these patients is the ability to predict and prevent disease flares, which are quite common, particularly after treatment ends. I’m sure that one day there will be a cure for JIA. However, it is currently not possible to foresee when this will happen.

Q. Any comments on the Rheumatology program at Children’s of Alabama?
A. I know that the Rheumatology program at Children’s of Alabama is outstanding and is one of the most active and renown in the US. I know personally Drs. Cron and Beukelman, who are both internationally well recognized and respected authorities in the field. Dr. Cron is the co-principal investigator of the multinational project that has recently led to the development of the new classification criteria in systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis. He has played and is still playing a fundamental role in ensuring the success of the initiative.

If you are interested in hearing Dr. Ravelli’s presentation, you can view the event live at noon on Thursday, Nov. 13 at http://www.childrensal.org/cme or watch the recorded version afterwards.

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