Telehealth helps deliver support for chronic pain sufferers in the South West

telehealthTelehealth technology is helping deliver help and support to individuals living with persistent or chronic pain in the South West.

Participants in the South West Hospital and Health Service’s Manage Your Pain Group are linked by video-conference to experts at the Gold Coast Interdisciplinary Persistent Pain Centre at Robina Hospital.

The Robina Hospital unit is one of five dedicated pain centres around Queensland.

The other four are Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Nambour Hospital and The Townsville Hospital.

South West HHS Social Worker Heather Scriven said the telehealth support link with Robina Hospital was a first for the Gold Coast-based pain centre.

“It means that participants in our Manage Your Pain Group can attend their nearest local health facility wherever they are in the South West and be linked directly to the pain centre at Robina for face to face contact with a professional there,’’ she said.

“They are supported at their local health facility by an allied health professional and an allied health assistant.

“Current evidence suggests that internet delivery of pain management educational treatments has merit and this pilot program in the South West will help establish just how effective this method of delivery is for our clients.

“So far, the feedback from our participants has been very positive.’’

St George Hospital-based Ms Scriven said the Manage Your Pain Group was attended by people experiencing persistent or chronic pain and who had come together to seek ways to better manage that pain.

“The group is open to anyone experiencing persistent or chronic pain for six months or more and who is open to learning more about how to manage their persistent pain so they can improve their quality of life,’’ she said.

“Chronic pain is different from acute pain.

“Acute pain is immediate as a result of tissue damage and heals over a shorter period of time.

“Chronic pain, on the other hand, continues long after the tissue damage heals and it is more related to our nervous system that is being over sensitised. Chronic pain is complex and involves physical, mental and social issues.’’

Ms Scriven said the South West’s Manage Your Pain Group provided a shared experience for people with chronic pain.

“This is really important as individuals often come to the group having felt misunderstood and labelled, after many months or even years of experiencing chronic pain,” she said.

Ms Scriven has long been passionate about bringing persistent pain management services to patients in the rural sector.

Initial discussions with Robina Hospital about starting a pain group started in 2012.

“It took a lot of planning and our first Manage Your Pain Group started in the South West in January this year,’’ she said.

“The program being delivered in the region is based on the Robina Hospital pain centre’s current outpatient education program Manage Your Pain Day, which has been modified to be delivered, in four two-hour sessions over four weeks.

“The program includes topics such as understanding pain, looking at behavioural approaches to managing pain, pacing and grading activity, motion, communication, sleep and flare-up management.

“We have individuals participating who have chronic lower back pain, leg pain from nerve damage and those that suffer from chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis.

“It is not the original injury or diagnosis that is addressed but the subsequent chronic pain and how to improve management of pain.’’

Ms Scriven said with National Pain Week being observed from 20–26 July, it was appropriate that South West residents be aware of the pain management services available locally.

• If you are suffering from persistent pain and would like to know more about the Manage Your Pain program please contact Heather Scriven or Kym Duncan at the SWHHS Community and Allied Health Unit in St George on 4620 2265.

• In Roma, contact physiotherapist Jessica Head at the Nuriyn Centre on 4624 2719