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Professional Membership of the HMSA, Jo Southall (OT) for #HMSAware

Posted By FLICK MCLUCKIE, February 24, 2017
My relationship with the HMSA started way back in 2010. At the time I was a 19 year old outdoor adventure instructor with mystery joint pain and an impressive range of injuries. A physiotherapist mentioned I was ‘pretty hypermobile’. After half an hour on google and I was fairly convinced I did, in fact have Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I spent the next year on the then HMSA forums, learning everything I could. When I finally managed to see a rheumatologist they confirmed my suspicions. 
The diagnosis was a turning point my life, It became clear that my impressive range of injuries were unlikely to clear up and my job was likely to become impossible. Age 21 I got my first wheelchair and headed off to university to study Occupational Therapy.  Over the 5 years it took me to become an Occupational Therapist the HMSA was a constant source of support and I did my best to repay the favour by volunteering.  Now I’ve finished university and the HMSA continues to be a source of support and inspiration, not only in my personal life but my professional one as well.  
Part of the HMSA’s mission is to support people with hypermobility syndromes and this includes creating a wider network of experts across the UK and around the world. Many of our members are severely disabled by their conditions, this is exacerbated by lack of access to medical professionals with the interest and proper knowledge base to help. By spreading awareness to both the general public and health and social care professionals we aim to support early diagnosis and proper intervention.
Becoming a professional member gains you access to our evidence base, professional support and development. The Professionals only groups provide learning and networking opportunities. As a professional member you also get priority booking for professional development events.    
The HMSA provides a constant supply of information standard approved resources, the perfect starting place if you’re new to the condition. Regular updates are provided in the twice yearly journals and quarterly e-newsletters and as a professional member you have the opportunity to submit articles and get published in both of these. Professional membership also offers you access to a highly trained and dedicated team of health and social care experts on Heritable Disorders of Connective Tissue. Initial contacts for this are Dr Alan Hakim (Chief Medical Advisor) , Ms. Donna Wicks (CEO/RMN). If you’re a researcher the HMSA will also provide email support and even assist with recruitment for relevant studies.  There is also the option of having your details on a ‘contact list’ for the HMSA to use to inform patients of your services.  
There is more information about the specific benefits of Professional membership on the HMSA website.
Personally, I think there is one benefit worth more than any of the others. As a professional member you have the opportunity to learn how living with a hypermobility syndrome truly impacts the lives of your patients. The HMSA is run by a dedicated team of volunteers and supporters, many of them, (like myself) are trained health and social care professionals. They are also patients. Living well with a hypermobility syndrome often means daily physiotherapy, lifestyle adaptations, mobility aids, medications and more. The day to day experiences of patients are parts of life that medical professionals are rarely privy to. Here with the HMSA you have the opportunity to experience that, learn from it and use it to improve your professional practice.   

Jo Southall, HMSA Volunteer & Independent Occupational Therapist.

To support the work we do please Just Text “HMSA13 £5” (or your preferred amount) to 70770. Your donation is appreciated and goes directly to members support, we are volunteer run so we don’t have large overheads.

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