Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Snippets from IASP

Luggage finally arrived home yesterday. This is good, because all my notes and materials from the Congress were in it.

Pain Mind and Movement Symposium
A whole day of presentations, lots of science, lots of graphs, lots of dark slides of graphs in a dark room. I gotta say, there wasn't as much zip as I would have preferred. Some presentations stood out, like that of Michael Sullivan who is looking at how to test for a sense of "perceived injustice" in injury cases, teasing out the manner and degree to which it impacts a pain experience. He used video clips - much more interesting than plain old power point. Maureen Simmonds showed video clips of her movement lab - she uses virtual landscapes projected onto walls and tries to determine if illusory surroundings have any effect on perceived pain or effort while walking on a treadmill. Catherine Sabiston talked about mastectomy patients and dragon boating, and something called post-traumatic psychological growth, but not pain specifically. It sounded like if everyone would just bond while being active no one would care if they had pain or not. I don't know - I'm sure there's something to this but I'm also pretty sure that not everything emotionally or physically or socially painful is due to dragon boating deficiency.

There was a break for lunch, which turned out to be lunch from a box, not the most inspiring lunch I've ever enjoyed. Several of us gathered round large round tables. I sat with some people I knew from being online and a young woman from England I had just met. The conversation roamed around and landed on the topic of pain and biomechanics, something I have done some thinking about. As we talked about how to uncouple the two ideas to free the minds of PTs from the shackles of conflated thinking, the English girl said, well, wait a minute, I have a foot pain, and it goes away when I slide T12 to the right over L1. I couldn't let it go by: Really? I asked; Do you think that's the only thing going on in your body that matters, is that you move a few bones relative to each other? How do you "know" you are even doing that? I was questioning her assumptions but she responded as though I had punched her in the gut. She replied that that's what she did, and it took away her pain. I looked at the others and said, mesodermalist. A lively discussion followed but the English girl might as well have been listening to jabber from an alien planet, because she knew what she knew and what she knew was fine by her. Or something. I think she's another meme victim of "motor control." I checked around and see that she wrote a chapter in a book about movement published in 1998. She's been attending congresses like this, one presumes... maybe she still imagines that other innervated tissues in the body, besides bone and muscle, don't matter to the brain. Maybe she's never considered that physically therapeutic ways to approach the problem of pain exist, might include a bit of, but are in no way restricted to, "motor control". It's the 'blinkers attached to the side of the head' problem I've seen ever since I started up in this profession 40 years ago.

The afternoon session included more dark powerpoints in a dark room. The final session was a "roundtable" - a refreshingly lively microphone session where anyone who wanted to take the mike could. Steve George started off with a confession that he was a recovering biomechanist. He had presented earlier but I probably had zoned out by then on all the powerpointage - my ears were sharp now however. He was followed by a bunch of other fed-up people, all on a similar page about the state of PT and what could be done about putting pain further forward in the focus of the profession. I didn't get up at the mike - I'm more interested in what others more eloquent and extroverted than I have to say, and I'm better at writing than talking. It was great to be there and realize how not alone I am in my disquiet.

The wine and cheese slated to follow the day had been canceled.

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