Musculoskeletal conditions in young people are often invisible. From chronic pain and fatigue, to anxiety and joint inflammation – you can’t see them. Even when these conditions change the way people’s bodies look, many will try to adapt and ‘hide’ any changes, so that they can ‘fit in’ with society.

Until you’ve experienced an invisible condition first-hand, you really cannot pass judgement on the challenges that you face. Having lived with multiple invisible conditions, I know this only too well. There are certain things which I just cannot do. This frustrates me, and makes me anxious in social situations, as I don’t want to appear incapable. Many of these challenges could be helped through the use of different products. Already, people like me with musculoskeletal conditions, use a number of different products to make life just that little bit easier.

Cue, the #DesignForMSK creative project. Delivered by the Public Programmes Team at the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with The University of Manchester and the NIHR Manchester Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit. This project brought together young people with musculoskeletal conditions, designers, curators and researchers to explore what it means to be a young person living with musculoskeletal conditions, and to design solutions that could improve lives. Over a series of meetings, this project has culminated into an art exhibition, titled ‘The invisible (visible)‘.

The exhibition will launch on Monday 5th December 2016 at Manchester Art Gallery in the Lecture Room, and will be on show until 5 pm on Thursday 8th December 2016.

Please come along to the exhibition to learn about the experiences of young people living with musculoskeletal conditions, and potential solutions to some of the everyday challenges facing young people!


Written by simonrstones

Simon R. Stones BSc (Hons) is an award-winning patient advocate, consultant and researcher from Manchester in the UK, who was the winner of the international WEGO Health Award for Patient Healthcare Collaborator in 2017. He is a passionate advocate and ambassador for people living with invisible illnesses, inspired and empowered by his own journey with juvenile arthritis, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory bowel disease since childhood. He is currently an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society, a trustee of Fibromyalgia Action UK and RAiISE, and board member of the European Network for Children with Arthritis (ENCA) and the European Network of Fibromyalgia Associations (ENFA).

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