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Pain is one of the most common reasons that people seek medical help, yet it remains one of the most misunderstood areas of healthcare. One in five Australians live with chronic pain and the prevalence rises as we age.
The Metro South Persistent Pain Management Service based at PAH provides treatment, support and management techniques to those in our community with persistent debilitating pain.
Occupational Therapist (OT) Michael Deen, knows how intricate pain and its treatment can be.
“Pain is not just a physical sensation, it is influenced by our thoughts, our emotions and our physical and social environments.
“The aim of our treatment in the pain clinic is not to take away the pain, but to empower people to live a meaningful life even in the presence of persisting pain by helping them understand what influences it, what is going on in their bodies when they experience pain and strategies to self-manage symptoms,” he said.
As an OT, Michael found his passion for pain management early in his career.
“When I was previously working in a community vocational rehabilitation setting, I found that I really enjoyed helping people who experienced persistent pain and mental health conditions with the aim of getting them back into the workforce and living more full and productive lives.
“Chronic pain patients are usually in a really tough spot in life when we first see them, so being able to work alongside my team to enable patients to re-engage in purposeful and meaningful activities and fulfil important life roles is a big driver for me to want to come to work each day.”
As for a career highlight, Michael said it’s hard to just pick one.
“Watching people progress from being sedentary, isolated, fearful of their pain and not really doing much with their lives to being more active, engaged and resilient members of their community gives me a real buzz.
“Rehabilitation done well is an amazing and rewarding experience to observe and be a part of.”
Coming from the Professor Tess Cramond Multidisciplinary Pain Centre at the RBWH, Michael was part of the founding team for the Metro South clinic.
“The demand for our service has continually grown since we began in 2011 with over 650 new patients attending one of our orientation sessions in 2018,” he said.
“We hope to continue expanding and are currently trialling new ways to benefit patients including further research into the possibilities of virtual reality, ways to work more effectively with refugees and looking into initiatives with peer support for people who experience persistent pain. We are also involved in a variety of projects which we hope will have a direct impact on the care that we provide.”