A TWENTY-YEAR-OLD arthritis sufferer is putting his tech skills to the test help other youngsters living with debilitating condition.
Simon Stones has teamed up with researchers to work on a new mobile phone app for children diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
He first signed up as a consumer representative on a clinical studies group run by Arthritis Research UK and now sits on a panel for the NIHR Clinical Research Network.
The new app — still in its early stages — will be designed to help youngsters manage their medication and record their symptoms.
Mr Stones, from Daisy Hill, said: “I love being involved in the group. It’s great to see just how much research is going on and it feels good to be a part of something which may benefit future generations.
“I’ve learnt so much over the last two years – not just about my own condition but also about research as a whole. It’s been a steep learning curve and very enjoyable.
“We’ve done a lot of research with young people on the app and there isn’t anything out there for young people with JIA.
“It could take up to four years to develop but it’s really exciting.”
Mr Stones was first diagnosed with JIA when he was aged just three and was dealt another blow when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease as a teenager.
But this has not stopped him from pursuing his dream to go to university to study biomedical sciences.
The Manchester University student now has his sights set on a research career and plans to apply for a National Institute For Health Research (NIHR) doctoral research fellowship next year.
If successful, Mr Stones hopes to work on national guidelines to improve the child-to-adult care pathway in rheumatology.
He added: “Being a part of the group has given me some excellent opportunities to attend conferences and events that I would otherwise never have got the chance to even hear about. I’ve met so many people and had the chance to contribute to projects which could help other children and their families. My involvement has inspired me to pursue a career in research and I plan on applying for an NIHR fellowship next year.”