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Down woman's arthritis tracker app for young adults aims to help and connect sufferers during coronavirus pandemic

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Security workers in Northern Ireland may be reluctant to download a new contact-tracing app over fears their personal details could be compromised, a former Special Branch officer has warned. (stock photo)

Security workers in Northern Ireland may be reluctant to download a new contact-tracing app over fears their personal details could be compromised, a former Special Branch officer has warned. (stock photo)

PA Archive/PA Images

Security workers in Northern Ireland may be reluctant to download a new contact-tracing app over fears their personal details could be compromised, a former Special Branch officer has warned. (stock photo)

A Co Down woman is behind a mobile app to support teens and young adults living with arthritis during the coronavirus pandemic.

Leading charity Versus Arthritis is launching the app today in the hope that it will help young people living with the debilitating condition, including the 15,000 children under the age of 16 who have juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

The arthritis tracker - which provides 24/7 access to trusted information and advice for young people between 13 and 25 - will help them to rate and record their arthritis symptoms in seconds and track their pain, medication side effects, fatigue, physical activity, sleep and emotional wellbeing.

Along with tracking their arthritis symptoms and wellbeing, the app also connects sufferers with other teenagers and young people who know what it is like to live with arthritis.

Hope Graham, from Warrenpoint, came up with the idea for the app as a result of her own painful experience of JIA.

She said: "Having an app that can help track symptoms is such a huge help.

"I have been in a lot of pain previously, but whenever I go to the doctor, I tend to say 'I'm okay, I'm not feeling that bad', but actually, I won't have been able to walk up the stairs a couple of weeks ago.

"I will be using the app all the time now. Being part of its development has already helped me to ensure I get the treatment I need when I visit my doctor. And being able to link up with other young people has completely changed the way I feel about my condition. I used to feel very alone.

"I hope that this app helps other young people to become part of a community, who are here to support each other."

An estimated 2.98m people under the age of 35 in the UK are living with a musculoskeletal condition like arthritis and the app will help young people enduring pain, fatigue and the isolation of arthritis, while also dealing with the everyday challenges of growing up.

Many people living with arthritis take immunosuppressant drugs and, as a result, they are amongst the 1.8m across the UK who currently have to shield themselves from Covid-19.

As a result, they have been unable to attend face-to-face hospital appointments and there are concerns this has made it more difficult to explain their symptoms. It is hoped the app, which is available from the Versus Arthritis website, will help to address this.

Belfast Telegraph