Rare case of dermatomyositis requires mix of neuromuscular care and physical therapy

Four years ago, a diagnosis of dermatomyositis nearly stopped Tricia Quastler of Granville in her tracks.

"It began with a painful rash on my hands that quickly spread to my neck and back. My wrists weakened, and my energy was sapped," Tricia shares.

Within six months, this active stay-at-home mom who had taught three fitness classes each week needed a wheelchair to get to appointments with her doctors.

Tricia's condition was rare, and few physicians knew how to treat it. Initially she saw both a neurologist and a rheumatologist, with no success. That changed when she went to Ohio State's Neuromuscular Center, where Miriam Freimer, MD, and her team had the expertise to treat what was determined to be dermatomyositis.

"As part of my therapy, Dr. Freimer prescribed CellCept – often prescribed to cancer patients – and I received regular infusions of IVIg, which helped to reduce the levels of harmful antibodies that are produced in this autoimmune disease," explains Tricia.

In addition, Dr. Freimer prescribed physical and occupational therapy to help Tricia regain her physical mobility and overcome her fatigue. Within a year, she was able to teach and participate in fitness classes again.

Though she still needs regular IVIg infusions, Tricia is enjoying life with her family, which includes four children who are now young adults. She lives on 14 wooded acres where she cares for five dogs and raises chickens.

People are often surprised by her diagnosis. "My life is very normal," she says. "You’d never know that there’s anything wrong with me."