Accommodation Ideas for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects connective tissues and results in flexible joints, elastic skin, and fragile tissues (Genetics Home Reference, 2006). There are several variations of the syndrome with each affecting a different gene and producing different signs and symptoms. Joint hypermobility is the dominant clinical manifestation. Some types of EDS are characterized by weaknesses in the walls of the hollow organs of the gastrointestinal tract, in the esophagus, the cardiovascular system, uterus, bladder, blood vessels, and the arteries (Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation, 2015).
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can alter the body's response to injury. Complications such as joint dislocations, early-onset arthritis, and damaged skin can result (Mayo Clinic, 2015). Although there is no cure for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, injuries can be treated and preventative measure can be taken to mitigate chances of injury. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a lifelong condition and for those working, accommodations may be needed.
Accommodation ideas for individuals with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome:
- Lifting Materials, Products, and People: Individuals with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome sometimes have difficulty lifting. Compact lifting devices, vacuum material handling, and winches are useful for moving materials and products. For transferring and moving people, patient lifts are helpful. For additional information on accommodations for lifting, visit SOAR's Accommodations for Individuals with Back Conditions.
- Heart-Related Impairments: Individuals with the vascular subtype of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome may experience impairments of the heart, which can result in various limitations. For information on accommodations for individuals with heart conditions, visit SOAR's Accommodations for Individuals with Heart Conditions.
- Skin Sensitivity: Individuals with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome may experience skin sensitivity or damage. Individuals may need protective clothing, to avoid certain hazardous chemicals, and reassignment if their previous jobs involved working outside.
- Personal Needs in the Work Environment: Individuals with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome may have structural abnormalities of the gastrointestinal tract resulting in a need to address personal hygiene needs while at work. If so, employers may consider allowing flexible restroom breaks, providing a private area for meeting hygiene needs, allowing a personal attendant in the workplace, and allowing work from home.
- Impairment of the Use of the Arms and Legs: A wheelchair or scooter may accommodate individuals who have difficulty moving around a workplace while recovering from an injury. Adjustable workstations also help individuals convert standing areas to sitting workstations. For building access, accessible parking, ramps, stair and chair lifts, and elevators are helpful. Implementing appropriate emergency evacuation procedures may also be a benefit.
- Pain: Individuals with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome may experience chronic pain and arthritic-type symptoms. For additional information on accommodations for chronic pain and arthritis, visit SOAR's Accommodation Ideas for Arthritis and JAN's publication titled Accommodating People with Chronic Pain.
Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation (2015). Learn about EDS. Retrieved May 27, 2015, from http://www.ednf.org/what-eds
Genetics Home Reference (2006). Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Retrieved May 27, 2015, from http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/ehlers-danlos-syndrome
Mayo Clinic (2015). Diseases and conditions: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Retrieved May 27, 2015, from ttp://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ehlers-danlos-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20033656