MOPHSF, UW Medicine Division of Pain Medicine team up to improve care for veterans

Published on April 25, 2013 at 1:19 AM · No Comments

The Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation (MOPHSF) and the UW Medicine Division of Pain Medicine are joining forces to assist veterans with treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and acute and chronic pain.

MOPHSF, a membership organization comprised of combat-wounded veterans and recipients of the Purple Heart, has awarded the Division of Pain Medicine a five-year $500,000 grant to develop leading-edge technologies that will help improve care for our veterans suffering from chronic pain, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. The funding will also support provider education and training, clinical care guidelines and outcomes-based research. Together, these will equip healthcare providers with the tools necessary to reduce the risk of veteran suicides and deaths, caused in part by accidental overdoses of opioids.

Jim Blaylock, MOPHSF president, said UW Medicine is a natural partner to advance the foundation's mission to provide aid and assistance to American veterans and their families.

"I am proud that we can extend our efforts to helping those veterans with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury," said Blaylock. "Our association with the UW Medicine, which is on the cutting edge of research and the forefront of teaching medical personnel how to recognize and treat our veterans, will allow the foundation to assist those who have given so much for this country. We are encouraged by UW Medicine's efforts and endorse and support their good work."

David Tauben, acting chief of the Division of Pain Medicine and medical director of the UW Center for Pain Relief, Anesthesia & Pain Medicine, said that home-based pain monitoring tools will help patients and providers better understand the complexities and impact of pain and post-traumatic stress on daily lives.

"In order for providers and patients to effectively manage pain, we need to know more about how pain and pain treatments are woven into a patient's daily life," Tauben said. "We need to address questions such as: How often do symptoms occur? How long do they last? What level of intensity do patients experience? What triggers pain? How well does the patient respond to treatment? And, how does the pain interfere with mood, stress, quality of life and activities of daily living?"

Researchers at UW Medicine's Division of Pain Medicine are creating innovative web-based assessment tools and mobile applications that can measure a person's activity throughout the day. These tools, when applied to pain management, will allow patients to use smartphones and PDAs to record information about their daily activities, including how much pain they experience hour-by-hour throughout the day, how physically active they are, and how they respond to different treatments. Data collected from these daily patient diaries can be used by providers to understand a person's pain experience on a daily basis, as well as his or her response to treatment over time. This technology will help educate and engage veterans in their own recovery by giving them feedback as they set personalized functional goals and track their progress over time. Tauben noted that the project is not only timely, but also forward-thinking.

"Rethinking our approach to pain management could not have come at a better time as the health care reform efforts focus our attention on creating innovative and technologically advanced approaches to more patient-centered, cost-effective care," Tauben said. "In addition, the epidemic of accidental deaths from opioids and the return of servicemen and servicewomen from war make this the ideal time for an investment in this ambitious, forward-thinking venture. Our goal is to develop innovative tools that - along with our clinical care, education, and research programs - can help to end pain as a cause of human suffering."

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