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Rheumatism or Rheumatic disorder is a non-specific term for medical problems affecting the heart, bones, joints, kidney, skin and lung. The study of, and therapeutic interventions in, such disorders is called rheumatology. more...

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Repetitive strain injury
Respiratory acidosis
Restless legs syndrome
Retinitis pigmentosa
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Roseola infantum
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Rumination disorder

The term "rheumatism" is still used in colloquial speech and historical contexts, but is no longer frequently used in medical or technical literature; it would be fair to say that there is no longer any recognized disorder called, simply, "rheumatism". The traditional term covers such a range of different problems that to ascribe symptoms to "rheumatism" is not to say very much: arthritis and rheumatism between them cover at least 200 different conditions.

A vast number of traditional herbal remedies were recommended for "rheumatism". Modern medicine, both conventional and complementary, recognises that the different rheumatic disorders have different causes (and several of them have multiple causes) and require different kinds of treatment. Most sources dealing with rheumatism tend to focus on arthritis. However "non-articular rheumatism", also known as "regional pain syndrome" or "soft tissue rheumatism" can cause just as much discomfort and difficulty.

The major rheumatic disorders currently recognised include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rheumatic heart disease (Rheumatic fever)
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Tenosynovitis
  • Capsulitis
  • Bursitis
  • Rheumatic fever.

Although these disorders probably have little in common in terms of their epidemiology, they do share two characteristics: they cause chronic (though often intermittent) pain, and they are difficult to treat. They are also, collectively, very common. The very long list of supposed herbal remedies for rheumatism no doubt reflects the intractable nature of the problems it involves, and so, perhaps, does the fact that are no fewer than six patron saints for sufferers from rheumatism: Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Saint Colman, Saint James the Greater, Saint Killian, Saint Servatus, and Saint Totnan.

Initial therapy of the major rheumatological diseases is with paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), members of which are ibuprofen and diclofenac. Often, stronger analgesics are required.


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Scholarships, Fellowships, and Grants
From Physical Therapy, 11/1/05

Childs and George Receive DOD Grant

Major John D Childs, PT, PhD, MBA, OCS, CSCS, FAAOMPT, and Steve George, PT, PhD, (both Foundation grant recipients) were recently awarded an R01 comparable grant from Department of Defense (DOD) in support of a project to assess the effectiveness of back pain prevention strategies in soldiers in the US Army. Childs remarked that "the bulk of the preliminary work that formed the basis for this project emanated from our Foundation-funded work."

Childs has twice received funding from the Foundation for Physical Therapy. He was awarded a Promotion of Doctoral Studies (PODS) scholarship in 2001 and a research grant in 2003 for his project, "Effectiveness of an Extension-Oriented Intervention in Patients with Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial." Results from Childs' research were part of a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in December 2004. An accomplished researcher, Childs has written articles for numerous publications, including Arthritis and Rheumatism, Clinical Biomechanics, Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, and Physical Therapy. Currently, he is Assistant Professor and Director of Research at the US Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy.

George was a PODS scholarship recipient in 2000 and 2001. He currently is Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and a member of the Leadership Committee for the Brooks Center for Rehabilitation Studies at the University of Florida. George's primary research interest involves the use of biopsychosocial models in the prevention and treatment of disability from musculoskeletal pain. He has received competitive research grants supporting his work in this area from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the University of Florida. He has presented his clinical research findings at several scientific meetings, including the Combined Sections meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and annual meetings of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, the American Pain Society, and the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Spotlight on the Foundation's Scientific Review Committee

G Kelley Fitzgerald, PT, PhD, OCS, a Foundation doctoral award recipient in 1995 and 1997 as well as a research grant recipient in 2000, has served on the Scientific Review Committee (SRC) since January 2005.

Fitzgerald's academic career began with a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Drexel University, formerly Hahnemann University, in 1990. He left Drexel University in 1998 for a faculty position in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is currently Associate Professor.

Fitzgerald has an extensive publication and funding record with an emphasis on evaluation and treatment of knee disorders. For the past 5 years, his major area of focus has been on issues related to rehabilitation for people with knee osteoarthritis (OA). He currently is funded by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disorders to conduct a randomized trial to determine the effectiveness of knee stability training in people with knee OA.

Fitzgerald has served as Associate Editor for Arthritic Care and Research and is an Editorial Board Member for Physical Therapy. He also is a manuscript reviewer for Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Therapy, Arthritis and Rheumatism, and Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

In 2001, Fitzgerald received APTA's Dorothy Briggs Memorial Scientific Inquiry Award and Physical Therapy's Manuscript Reviewer of the Year Award. He currently serves as Chair of the Research Committee for the Orthopaedic Section of APTA, and is an ad hoc member of the NIH Medical Rehabilitation Science Study Section.

Carolynn Patten, PT, PhD, an SRC member since January 2005, was the recipient of a Foundation doctoral scholarship award in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 and a New Investigator Fellowship and Training Initiative (NIFTI) award in 1998. She was the first nonphysician recipient of a Career Development Award through the Veterans Administration (VA) Rehabilitation Research & Development Service (RR&D). This 3-year Research Award (1998-2001) was followed by an Advanced Career Development Award from the VA RR&D between 2002 and 2004. Patten noted that "a $1,800 Foundation award as a grad student has grown into a research portfolio totaling more than $4 million."

Patten is Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine. In her faculty role, she is responsible for a core segment of the resident education program in physical medicine and rehabilitation. She also is a Center Investigator at the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center in Palo Alto, Calif, where she directs a multidisciplinary research program investigating neurophysiological and biomechanical mechanisms that underlie recovery of motor function in people with neurological disorders. Her current research portfolio includes 3 stroke-related projects for which she is principal investigator: "Therapeutic Effects on Neuromuscular Function in Post-Stroke Hemiplegia," "Internally vs Externally Driven Body Weight Supported Treadmill Training for Locomotor Recovery Post-Stroke," and "Mechanisms of Upper-Extremity Motor Recovery in Post-Stroke Hemiparesis."

Since 2002, Patten has been Chair of APTA's Section on Neurology Research Committee.

Christopher Powers, PT, PhD, also became a member of the SRC in January 2005. Powers has received 3 awards from the Foundation for Physical Therapy, including research awards in 1993 and 2001. Currently, he is one of the co-lead investigators of the Foundation's Clinical Research Network (CRN) project, the largest project ever funded by the Foundation or APTA.

Powers is Associate Professor in the Department of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy and Co-Director of the Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Research Laboratory at University of Southern California. He also has joint appointments in the Departments of Radiology and Orthopaedic Surgery within the Keck School of Medicine. His primary teaching responsibilities include the areas of biomechanics and the mechanics of human gait.

Powers studies the biomechanical aspects of human movement. More specifically, his research and published works are concerned with the kinematic, kinetic, and muscular actions associated with human movement, the pathomechanics of orthopedic disabilities, and issues related to rehabilitation of the musculoskeletal system. He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles and 100 abstracts and has received several research awards from APTA, including the Rose Excellence in Research Award from the Orthopaedic Section, the Eugene Michels New Investigator Award, and the Dorothy Briggs Scientific Inquiry Award.

Powers is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and a member of APTA (Orthopaedic and Research Sections), the American Society for Biomechanics, the American Society for Testing and Measures, and the North American Society for Gait and Clinical Movement Analysis.

Application Deadline

Promotion of Doctoral Studies (PODS) I & II and New Investigator Fellowship Training Initiative (NIFTI) applications are due January 17, 2006. The guidelines and applications for both opportunities are available online at

Copyright American Physical Therapy Association Nov 2005
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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