Olivia’s Story 

Olivia doesn’t always understand why she needs a shot every week to manage her JA or why she can't run as fast as she used to. She does, however, understand that she is brave and strong. 

When you watch Olivia sitting on the floor and playing with one of her favorite toys, you might think she is like any other 3-year-old child. She is smiling, laughing and having fun with her friends. But outside appearances do not always tell the story. Olivia is a resilient child who was diagnosed with polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) when she was eighteen months old. 

After a year or so of normal growth and progression, Olivia suddenly experienced months of regression in her gross motor skills involving her legs. She suffered an elbow fracture that didn't heal properly. These symptoms led her parents to Children's Hospital for testing and diagnosis.  Olivia did not present with the typical signs of JIA, and it took nearly a week of various tests to ultimately diagnose her. 

Thankfully, within a few weeks of starting the medication and extensive physical therapy, Olivia was able to pull herself up again and she began taking steps. A few months later, she once again exhibited signs of swelling and stiffness. The arthritis had spread and now affected not only her knees and elbow, but also her ankles. Additional medication was added to her regimen, and thankfully, this led to almost a full year in remission. This past summer, she experienced another flare. With minor adjustments to her medication, her doctor is hopeful her JIA will go into remission. 

As one might expect, Olivia does not always understand why she needs an injection every week and why, during flare ups, she can't run as fast as she used to. However, Olivia does understand that she is brave and strong. She takes ballet and tap dancing and recently started playing soccer.