AN inspirational teenager is hoping to raise awareness of a debilitating medical condition which can leave her in constant pain, exhausted and bed-bound for days.
Emma Beauchamp was a sporty teenager who excelled in cross country running and gymnastics, and played hockey for County Durham.
But the 16-year-old, from Darlington, had to give up her sports when she was diagnosed with Hypermobility Syndrome in October last year after suffering pain in her knees.
The syndrome means she has overly flexible joints which can often ‘pop out’ or dislocate, meaning everyday tasks, such as walking to school or shopping with friends, can leave her bed-bound with chronic pain.
Over the past eight months, her condition has deteriorated to the point where should could not walk between lessons at school.
However, with her positive outlook on life, and help from her family and friends, the former Hummerksnott Academy pupil has learnt to manage her condition.
“It was horrible at first when I was diagnosed, but it was a relief to know what it was,” she said.
“I do not want it to stop me doing things – I would rather do things and be in pain, than stay in bed all day and not be in pain.”
As the condition is an invisible disability – a disability that cannot be seen – and can be difficult to diagnose, Emma hopes to use her experience to raise awareness and help others understand the condition.
“It is really hard for someone who has never heard of it to understand what it is,” she said.
“I have a really supportive family who understand it, but there are a lot of people who don’t have that.”
Her mother, Tara, said: “I wouldn’t have coped with it the way Emma has. There has never been any aspect of feeling sorry for herself.
“She doesn’t want any sympathy, all she wants to do is to raise awareness and help give something back.”
She also thanked Emma’s physiotherapist, Jade Wearmouth at Darlington Memorial Hospital, for helping her daughter cope with her condition.
“I certainly feel that had it not been for the support we receive from Jade, we would be nowhere near as positive and able to cope as we are,” she added.
A recent summer party organised by Emma and her family raised more than £3,000 for the Hypermobility Syndromes Association, which helps sufferers come to terms with their condition. The family are planning to host another event on June 19 next year.
For more information and support visit hypermobility.org