EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – An Edwardsville teen is now a Gold Award Girl Scout after bringing awareness to a disease she herself has.
The Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois said Colleen McCracken was awarded this honor by bringing awareness to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). POTS is a form of Dysautonomia, or disorder of the autonomic nervous system. It affects one in every 100 teenagers but is misdiagnosed frequently.
“I came up with the idea for POTS education after struggling to get an accurate diagnosis to my ongoing health problems,” McCracken said.
McCracken gave informative presentations on POTS to emergency medical technicians at Edwardsville Fire Department, nursing staff at the Madison County Health Department, school nurses at Edwardsville Community District 7 and students in kinesiology classes at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. During her presentations, she explained how to identify, diagnose and treat the disorder, with a question and answer portion after.
It was after her presentations that she realized many medical professionals believed they may have encountered someone with POTS, but could not find a diagnosis at the time. The kinesiology course added a permanent unit on POTS to the syllabus.
McCracken also worked with Edwardsville City Council to have October proclaimed Dysautonomia Awareness Month in the city.
“I have had other POTS patients who have seen my advocacy work reach out to me both for advice and in gratitude,” McCracken said.
McCracken is a Trifecta Award Girl Scout–a designation she received by earning the Girl Scout Bronze Award, Girl Scout Silver Award and Girl Scout Gold Awards.
McCracken graduated Edwardsville High School this May. She plans to attend Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver to study flute performance.