BY MARY WICOFF
Veterans who have chronic pain understand sometimes there’s no cure, but there are ways to manage it.
A seminar, “Veterans in Pain — Learning to Live with Pain,” will be presented from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 25 in the social activities room in Building 104, Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System.
Veterans, family members and health professionals are asked to register in advance, as lunch will be provided.
Presented by the American Chronic Pain Association, the seminar will focus on validating the impact of chronic pain among veterans and their families, and improve their quality of life. The seminar will be broadcast live to VA facilities across District 11, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.
Penney Cowan, executive director of the American Chronic Pain Association, will come in from California to present the seminar.
The program is geared to all ages — from young veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan to the older veterans, many of whom have spine problems.
Ray Nasser of Danville, a Korean War veteran, is looking forward to the seminar as he seeks relief from pain associated with back surgery.
“They won’t help me get rid of it,” he said, “but I’m hoping they can help me cope with it.”
Michael Tindera, a physician assistant, established the pain clinic at the Danville VA when he came here a couple of years ago. He’s a member of the American Chronic Pain Association, and was instrumental in bringing the seminar to Danville after having seen how successful other seminars were.
In the morning, the seminar will discuss types of pain, coping skills, and ACPA tools and resources. This will be geared toward veterans interested in learning more about chronic pain management and health care providers who want to learn how to help individuals become actively involved in their wellness program.
Lunch will be served from noon to 1:15 p.m.
In the afternoon, the focus will be on forming peer-led support groups for veterans and creating facilitators. Discussions will revolve around: what is a facilitator; responsibilities of members; publicizing the group and preparing for the first meeting; using the ACPA workbook; and working on group problems. Outside of the meetings, veterans will learn about the ACPA sponsor program and getting help from the national office.
Health providers who want to learn how they can provide ongoing support to group facilitators are welcome to attend the afternoon session.
Some of the areas to be covered are:
Importance of the person with pain to take an active role in the recovery process.
Establishing a peer-led support group focused on coping skills for managing pain.
Maintaining the peer support group and keeping its focus on managing pain.
Exploring the basics of pain management by focusing on the ACPA Ten Steps from Patient to Person.
“I’ve seen this work elsewhere,” Tindera said, “and that’s why I wanted to bring it here.”
Studies have shown that medication, injections and physical therapy don’t work by themselves. What does work is a multi-disciplinary approach using a variety of tools, he said.
The local VA also has a chronic pain care school, which meets weekly for patients and families, he said.
In fact, the pain management program won Best Practices Award from the Joint Commission last year, he said.
Registration is recommended so there will be enough materials and food for everyone. To register and more information, call (800) 533-3231. There is no charge.
The American Chronic Pain Association’s website is http://www.theacpa.org