Disability Focus: Inclusion Body Myositis
Friday, August 03, 2012
What is Inclusion Body Myositis?
Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM) is a condition where a person experiences inflammation in their muscular tissue which leads to weakness in the affected muscles. This weakness often leads to tripping or falling and an inability to grip objects or lift substantial weights. The disorder is degenerative and is typically seen in men over 50, but not exclusively. Though rare, the disease is becoming increasing prevalent and there is still very little understanding of what causes it. There is also no known effective treatment for IBM.
Inclusion Body Myositis in the Workplace
In it's early stages, IBM is largely an invisible disability. A person living with IBM may look very fit and healthy even though there are days when they would not be able to lift a five pound bag. Disclosure of the disability is very important to ensure accommodations and strategies are in place to help a person with IBM succeed in the workplace.
Indeed, working may be possible for someone in the early stages of IBM. The symptoms associated with IBM are not always stable and thus some days are better than others. However, work scenarios which involve heavy lifting and lots of exertion should be avoided. Periodic rests and ergonomic workstations in the workplace can alleviate some of the fatigue associated with IBM. Self-paced workloads with flexible hours can also be a way to mitigate some of the exertion associated with the symptoms.
Accommodations will vary on a case by case basis. There are many solutions available and a workplace with open and honest communication can almost always find an acceptable solution. People experience the symptoms of IBM in a variety of ways and thus their needs will differ, consider the following scenarios:
A person with IBM is experiencing hand weakness which makes using a traditional keyboard difficult. There are miniature keyboards available with light touch features which can be used. Or speech recognition technology.
A person with IBM experiencing cognitive problems may need written job instructions and reminders alongside other memory aids like schedulers.
A person with IBM may require an accessible washroom and/or office if they rely on a motorized chair.
These are just a few possible strategies available for a person with IBM. In many cases accommodations will come at little to no cost and just require effective planning between employer and employee. For those times when costlier accommodations are needed, there may be funding supports available to help make the workplace more accessible.