«My BRO is a working tool
As a research scientist and professor, Jeanette encounters many obstacles in her everyday work, which she can only overcome with BRO. Regular exchange with colleagues is particularly important to her, and this too is now possible again.
Scientist, professor and wheelchair user
Jeanette Erdmann is a research scientist and professor and has collagen VI muscular dystrophy. She has known since childhood that she has a muscle disease, but doctors have never been able to give her an accurate diagnosis. «I wanted to know why I have muscle disease. That is also the reason why I studied biology.» She has always been interested in research, especially in hereditary sciences. However, she was not only drawn to researching muscle diseases, but tried to understand the inheritance of heart attacks. «Ten years ago, I made my own diagnosis and have been researching a therapy for my disease for the past five years.» Researching this therapy is taking up more and more time and is understandably close to her heart. «My goal is to develop a therapy for myocardial infarction, but also for collagen VI muscular dystrophy. Working on something together with colleagues is fun and is what drives me every day. That’s what science is all about.»
Progressive muscular dystrophy is the umbrella term for a group of very different, chronic diseases of the skeletal muscles that are associated with a progressive loss of functional muscle substance. More than 30 different forms are known, which differ in terms of the mode of inheritance, the age of onset and the course of the disease.
Muscle diseases usually progress in such a way that they get worse over time, making it increasingly difficult to walk and stand up, for example. This was also the case for Jeanette: «My illness had a strong impact on my daily work and also on my private life. I always had to think in the morning if I had a meeting somewhere where I had to walk. This took a lot of strength and was a big burden.» After a certain point, many muscle patients can no longer simply get up from a chair or climb steps on their own: «I always had to see if someone was there who could help me over steps or support me when I got up. These are things that make everyday professional and private life very difficult. One is always dependent.»
«BRO has given me back my freedom. That’s such a cliché saying, but it’s completely true. Because with BRO I can go where I want without worrying about whether it’s strenuous, has stairs or steps or how I’m going to get there. For me, that’s a piece of freedom I’ve gotten back.» Another difference for Jeanette is also her appearance with BRO: «I’m more present again and I’m back in the research building where I can meet colleagues and just say hello.» For her, these are things that were not possible in the last few years, as every step involved a great deal of effort. «Now that I’m completely at ease sitting in the BRO and can get from A to B without any worries, I’m also much more relaxed when I meet people.»
In previous years, Jeanette was only able to attend events or meetings on campus to a very limited extent because of the relatively long distances involved: «I usually had to make sure that meetings were held at my office. In the morning, I would always think about whether I had a meeting that day and also how I would get there. That has changed completely. Now I can attend meetings, events and committee meetings the way I want and the distances don’t matter anymore.»
BRO as a working tool
Jeanette especially likes the dynamics of BRO: «It’s totally fun to drive with BRO and also the small turning circle is great in the lab or in the offices.»
Before Jeanette decided on a power wheelchair, she had been using a rolling walker for a long time: «Since I got BRO, I never had the thought “oh, now you need a wheelchair”, but I am annoyed that I did not take the step much earlier. For years I agonised, but now with BRO everything is just possible again.»
For her, her power wheelchair is a working tool that allows her to participate in life again: «I haven’t been to a congress for years. This is now closer again with BRO. Because now I no longer have to worry about being stuck at the station, for example, if the lift doesn’t work. This has happened to me a few times without BRO.» But Jeanette is also particularly looking forward to networking with colleagues. An essential part of science, which becomes possible again with BRO.