Researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute have developed the first Canadian clinical practice guidelines for managing neuropathic pain following spinal cord injuries (SCI).
The research team worked with care providers at Parkwood Institute, part of the St. Joseph’s Health Care London family, an international panel, and Dan Harvey, an SCI patient, to address the complex and unique challenges for managing pain during recovery and rehabilitation.
“Neuropathic pain—and pain in general—affects every person with a spinal cord injury very differently. Some people have it, some people don’t. But for those who do have it, it can make rehabilitation and recovery much more difficult,” explains Harvey, who sustained his spinal cord injury after falling off of a trampoline. “On top of just learning how to use your body again, you also have to deal with various forms of physical pains, which can make it challenging to mentally adapt to an injury.”
Dr. Eldon Loh, Lawson Researcher and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist at St. Joseph’s, and his team recognized that pain can be an overlooked part of SCI and plays a major factor in the success of rehabilitation.
“This is a starting point for us to standardize how we approach pain in the clinic,” says Dr. Loh. “We have identified gaps and offered recommendations to not only manage the pain, but also ensure that our patients can fully benefit from rehabilitation.”
The newly minted guide contains recommendations for screening and diagnosis, treatment and models of care, and will inform new tools and resources for care providers and patients with SCI. The document has been published in the international journal Spinal Cord.