James M. Elliott, PT, PhD
David M. Walton, PT, PhD
This online course provides participants the opportunity to discuss, apply and interpret new research and clinical knowledge to optimize outcomes of traumatic neck pain. The instructors guide participants towards deeper understanding of key aspects of neck pain care, from assessment through prognosis, to treatment decisions and outcomes measurement. These experienced clinician researchers not only provide a balanced and accurate representation of the current state of evidence-informed practice for traumatic neck pain, but use novel transformative teaching and learning tools to help participants from medicine and rehabilitation make sense of complex topics and apply new knowledge in a way that leads to observable clinical impact.
The course focuses on three areas of interest: Assess, Predict, and Treat.
Assess: In this section, participants receive theoretical knowledge about, and practical experience applying, a number of novel assessment/evaluation tools for use in patients with acute or chronic neck pain. These include tools that tap each of the nociceptive/biomechanical, cognitive, affective, social, peripheral neuropathic and central neurogenic domains. A new framework is presented that combines existing and easy-to-use measurement tools to help participants make sense of their patients' pain experiences and provide directions for more informed treatment planning to optimize patient outcomes.
Predict: Participants learn about the nature of chronic neck pain and, more importantly, the transition from acute to chronic pain. Clinical questions that are answered include, but are not limited to: 1) Who develops chronic pain and who doesn't? 2) Why does chronic pain develop in some people but not others? 3) What 'risk factors' can clinicians look for to help predict and prevent the development of chronic pain? Framed within a truly integrated biopsychosocial model of chronic pain development, participants will leave with a better understanding of how to confidently identify the 'at risk' patient, identify modifiable risk factors, and discuss the nature of communicating risk and the influence of compensation/litigation on successful rehabilitation outcomes. Communication with patients, funders and other members of the healthcare circle will be key components.
Treat: In this section, participants build upon the knowledge gained from their Assess and Predict sessions to build informed treatment plans for patients with acute and chronic neck pain. New phrases such as 'plugging the biggest hole' become common language for clinical reasoning as they learn about evidence-informed treatment approaches for addressing nociceptive/biomechanical, central neurogenic, peripheral neuropathic, cognitive, affective and social aspects of the pain experience that can be appropriately managed by rehabilitation professionals. Topics include, but are not limited to, surgical approaches, motor control, neuroplasticity, exercise-induced hypoalgesia, oculomotor retraining, use and benefit of manual therapies, targeted pain neurophysiology education, managing the depressed or anxious patient, and working as part of an interdisciplinary team, including knowing when to refer for multimodal care. A focus on being 'critical consumers of knowledge' gives participants greater ability to appraise and interpret new evidence as it comes available even after completion of this course.