Mind body therapy for adults with arthritis

Heather M. Greysen, a Nursing Doctoral Student in the UCSF Department of Occupational and Environmental Health (OEH) and a current National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Fellow is completing her second year of the Nursing Doctoral Program.  Her interest is in quality of life in an aging population with arthritis and how yoga and other complimentary mind body therapies can help with symptoms of arthritis.  

“I have a specific interest in working with the older population, especially since the numbers of older adults are growing and many are still working. The goal is to help this population maintain their function happily and without pain; at work and social life” 

Heather’s interest in improving the lives of people with Arthritis started to form at the National Institute of Arthritis and Muscoskeletal & Skin Diseases (NIAMS), of the National Institutes of Health. She worked there as Nurse Practitioner and Clinic Manager of the NIAMS Community Health Center in Washington D.C. providing health care services to people affected by arthritis, lupus, and other rheumatic diseases. 

“We saw patients who were having trouble functioning, because of complications with arthritis. Many were forced to retire early because of loss of function.” 

This wasn’t completely a foreign concept to Heather.  Growing up, Heather’s father and many of her family members worked in construction.  She could see the impact that strenuous work can have. “I have seen what it does to people and how it impacts them as they age.  I’d like to find ways to help people move through the type of pain and dehabilitation that arthritis causes for people as they get older.” 

From her experience at the NIAMS center and in her family, Heather began thinking about interventions for dealing with the symptoms of arthritis.  An avid exerciser and regular yoga student, Heather recognizes the importance of these activities in maintaining health.