Call it suiting up for a cause.

September is Arthritis Awareness Month. To help raise awareness, the Arthritis Society is challenging members of the media to try the RA Experience Suit.

The RA stands for rheumatoid arthritis. The suit is designed to simulate the loss of mobility associated with advanced rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can affect the entire body. Inflammation causes pain and swelling in the joints. “You cannot function,” says Ottawa Rheumatologist Dr. Ramin Yazdani. “You feel very stiff as if you are wearing a heavy suit of iron.”

The RA Suit uses Velcro straps and metal strips sewn into the material to achieve the same result. It severely limits mobility in the neck, back, shoulders, legs and ankles. Special gloves also restrict the use of one’s hands and fingers.

The suit was originally designed to give doctors a better understanding of the obstacles faced by people living with rheumatoid arthritis.

In Canada, one percent of the population is affected by rheumatoid arthritis. It can strike at any age.