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Children's National Medical Center Unveils New Pain Medicine Care Complex

Washington, DC – Pain is one of the main reasons people – children and adults – seek medical help.  And yet, pain, especially in children, is still largely misunderstood.  Nationally-recognized experts in pain medicine are for the first time directly applying research to improve clinical care for children using a Distract, Measure, Treat approach  that is already showing results.

The Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Medical Center  has opened a new Pain Medicine Care Complex, which aims to eliminate pain in children by addressing each patient’s pain from every angle. The Pain Medicine Care Complex combines new treatment approaches with sophisticated data collection via novel gaming technology that fully engage young patients and also objectively measures their treatment progress over time. 

“Through a cost-effective, continuous loop where evidence drives clinical care, and clinical care drives research, Children’s National is advancing pediatric pain medical research to improve the lives of children and reduce health care costs,” said Julia Finkel, MD, Lead Principal Investigator of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation and Vice Chief of the Division of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at Children’s National. “Using our unique approach – Distract, Measure, Treat – we can dramatically improve patient outcomes in the short term while simultaneously driving long-term research to transform how care is delivered to children in the United States and around the world.”

According to data collected by Children’s National, approximately one in four parents of patients treated at the hospital has to quit their job or reduce working hours to care for a child in pain.  Frequently, these patients also are misdiagnosed or treated for another disease, and pain is not acknowledged as a unique diagnosis if not linked to a specific condition. Misdiagnosis, along with uncoordinated, inefficient care and lost work productivity, can drive up the cost of treating pediatric (and adult) pain within the United States’  healthcare system.

“Until now, it has been impossible to quantitatively measure and monitor chronic pain in children,” said Sarah Rebstock, MD, PhD, Clinical Director of the Pain Medicine Program and a Principal Investigator of the Sheikh Zayed Institute. “Children’s National has developed a promising solution to this problem that applies objective measurement to video gaming therapy that is uniquely designed for pediatrics. The data we collect will enable us to optimize care for each individual patient we treat at the Pain Medicine Care Complex, while also evaluating the success of various treatments over time.”

Children’s National’s pain medicine program is the first of its kind to use unique video gaming therapy, holistic therapeutic tools, and digital data collection to enable short and long-term measurement of patient progress. For the first time, physicians can quantitatively measure pain and assess treatment progress in pediatric patients – all within an environment that was specially designed for children and teens. The Complex features the following elements:

  • A Multi-Sensory Room (MSR) in which a physical therapist uses video gaming therapy that distracts the patient, while simultaneously digitally measuring treatment progress through Kinect technology and a proprietary software application to gather patient data in real-time, which targets and tracks 24 musculoskeletal points in the body.
  • A high-tech, interactive POD bed designed by renowned interior designer Alberto Frias that serves as a biofeedback environment, including heart rate monitors, soothing lights and music, and tools to monitor a patient’s response to therapy and reduce patient anxiety.
  • State-of-the-art teleconference and telemedicine technology allows the pain medicine experts at Children’s National to diagnose and treat patients around the world.

The Pain Medicine Care Complex is part of the Sheikh Zayed Institute , which launched in 2009. The institute, which aims to make surgery more precise, less invasive, and pain free for children, was made possible by a $150 million gift from the Government of Abu Dhabi to Children’s National Medical Center.

Children’s National Medical Center:  Paula Darte, 202-476-4500
Weber Shandwick: Jessie duPont, 202-585-2978

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