Albany Med Amsterdam Improves Access for Gloversville Girl with Juvenile Arthritis

Lynda Stanzel was nearly 2 years old when she first showed signs of juvenile arthritis. Her parents, Lindsey and Jeremy Stanzel, of Gloversville, noticed a change in her movements. “All of the sudden, her knee started to lock. When she was trying to walk, it wouldn’t bend,” recalled Lindsey. The couple kept a watchful eye on their toddler but didn’t think it warranted medical attention. But when her knee began swelling, they sought medical care. They also noticed swelling of her thumb and finger. Her condition remained a mystery until she was admitted to the Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med and underwent testing.

Barbara Ostrov, MD, chief of service at the children’s hospital and a practicing pediatric rheumatologist, was on call the weekend Lynda was admitted to the hospital. Dr. Ostrov took one look at Lynda’s joints and her lab results and had her answer. “It was pretty clear that she had oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis,” said Dr. Ostrov, adding that this particular type curiously “tends to affect blonde, blue-eyed girls mostly at this age group – which exactly described Lynda.”

Juvenile arthritis is an umbrella term that describes inflammatory rheumatic diseases that develop in children under age 16, according to the Arthritis Foundation. The disease affects nearly 300,000 kids and teens in the U.S. Juvenile arthritis is comprised of a spectrum of autoimmune or autoinflammatory diseases where the immune system gets confused, activating cells and proteins of inflammation in the body that attack healthy tissue. As a result, patients experience joint inflammation, swelling, pain and tenderness. While there is no known cure, there are many excellent treatments that can completely control the arthritis.

In Lynda’s case, Dr. Ostrov explained that oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis affects up to four joints in the body and is prevalent in children ages 2 to 7 years. In addition, this type may also cause silent eye inflammation and requires close monitoring by a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Lindsey said she and her husband were relieved to have a definitive diagnosis that wasn’t life-threatening. Lynda sees an ophthalmologist every six months and is kept on a low dose of methotrexate to reduce inflammation. The couple also installed an above-ground pool, which Dr. Ostrov considers the perfect low-impact exercise for Lynda and all kids with arthritis.

And Lindsey brings Lynda for check-ups with Dr. Ostrov every three months – made even more convenient now that Albany Med opened a multispecialty center on Golf Course Road in Amsterdam. A one-hour trip to Albany Med is now just a 15-minute drive from Gloversville. “It is a lot less stressful, a lot fewer miles on my car, a lot less gas – I love it,” said Lindsey.

Under Dr. Ostrov’s care, Lindsey describes her daughter, who turns 4 on Sept. 11, as “thriving,” keeping busy and active outside during the summer months. “She loves eating ice cream, loves playing with her grandparents, just a very social butterfly. You wouldn’t even know that she would have juvenile arthritis by looking at her.”

Learn more about Albany Med Amsterdam.