Tuesday, April 08, 2008

'boot camp' for chronic pain rehab?

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When I first read about these chronic pain rehabilitation programs a few weeks ago, I was immediately interested in learning more. I feel as though my quality of life has really spiraled out of control in recent months, leaving me unable to do even simple things I used to do, such as basic housework and errands.

I wonder if this kind of intensive, all-in-one program could be just the thing to help me get back on track. I wouldn't expect this to be the cure all that would get me back to a high level of functioning, but I think it could help quite a lot with my day to day experience of living.

Boot Camp for Chronic Pain Sufferers: Biofeedback, Therapy, Exercise Under One Roof

Ballet teacher Gayle Parseghian thought she might never dance again after a back injury while moving heavy furniture left her with unrelenting pain.

But an intensive, four-week "boot camp" got the 55-year-old dancer from Toledo, Ohio, back to the barre. The program at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago taught her to manage the chronic pain that had tormented her for more than a year.

"It affects your relationship with your spouse, your family, your friends, your boss," she said. "It's like you're trapped in your body and you can't get out. It's a feeling of being completely out of control."

The Chicago program, affiliated with Northwestern's medical school, attacks pain on three fronts — biological, psychological and social. It doesn't claim to cure chronic pain, but instead gives patients tools to lessen its hold on their lives.

Patients spend Monday through Friday stretching, exercising and moving in new ways. They meet with a physician, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a biofeedback therapist, a clinical psychologist and a movement specialist.

They may address depression or sleep problems or adjust their medications. And they learn from the other patients in the program.

In the fragmented world of health care, they bounce from internist to chiropractor to massage therapist to surgeon — with none of the experts sharing information.

"You will try anything and everything to get out of the pain," Parseghian said. "You discover all of your efforts are fruitless and you have spent monumental amounts of money."

Isn't that the truth? There is no doubt that any of us could engage in each of these therapies individually, but I think there is a lot to be said for comprehensive therapy that takes all your needs into account and addresses them by pulling together a team of cooperating treatment providers and implementing a cohesive treatment plan.

Have any of you sought out this kind of treatment? What were your experiences?

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