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Support for RSD Patients, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome


There are many accidents that can occur in our lives. Often times, we are able to bounce back from these different kinds of accidents with little ill effect. Those who suffer from reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD), there is one accident that has changed their lives forever, making bouncing back from later accidents almost impossible. For Colleen Westra, age 52, a car accident in 2003 serves as one such accident. An article in Kalamazoo Living featured a story of Westra’s battle with reflex dystrophy and how she now uses her own struggles to offer support for those who also suffer from reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome.

Though unaware of her condition immediately following the accident, Westra currently suffers from RSD as a direct result of the accident. It is difficult to revisit an accident case with late diagnosis of such conditions and Westra, like many of those who suffer from dystrophy related conditions and particularly reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, finds herself at a loss for support with the many medical bills, treatments and managing daily life with the condition itself.

About RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome)

Dr. Matthew Kuiper, a osteopathic physician working in the Kalamazoo area, describes the neurological aspect of this form of reflex dystrophy as a case where the nerves become hyperactive and are rewired for no apparent reason. This causes patients like Westra to be on disability, unable to work, and with the constant need for treatment and medicine whereas before the accident she was making a 6-figure salary as a traveling nurse.

Diagnosing Difficulties with Dystrophy

It is difficult to diagnose RSD even with modern medical techniques. Kuiper describes it as a tricky “diagnosis of exclusion” lacking easy medical tests to rely on. The tragic thing about the difficulty in diagnosing this condition is that early detection can greatly increase the chance of completely curing the condition but for people like Westra, who was not diagnosed until it was too late, the condition can become a life long struggle.

Finding Support

Knowing firsthand the difficulties of suffering from RSD, Westra has founded a local area support group for those who suffer with reflex dystrophy. This support group has made a great impact on several members of their community and has helped raise awareness to help people detect this condition early and also help them to get the legal assistance they need when this condition results from an accident like Westra.

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