Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
For veterans dealing with chronic pain, the pain program at a VA medical center in Bedford, Massachusetts, offers an alternative treatment method that doesn’t rely on prescription drugs.
According to WBUR, a National Public Radio news station, the Department of Veterans Affairs has 67 such pain schools that offer five-week, 15-hour courses emphasizing nutrition, sleep, exercise, breathing, visualizations, and stress management as a part of a holistic method for managing chronic pain.
Central to these pain schools is the idea that patients will need help at many stages as they deal with their pain.
“We’re not curing your pain, we are not taking it away, but it’s a way of helping you to manage your pain and live your life and function better,” said psychologist Tu Ngo in the WBUR news report.
One of the program’s goals is to reduce the use of opioids in treating chronic pain. Ngo works at the VA’s pain school in Bedford, which currently has the third lowest opioid-prescribing rate among VA medical facilities in the country.
However, this approach doesn’t work for everyone. About half the students at Bedford’s school drop out before the class ends, reports WBUR.
For those who stick with the program, there is no guarantee that the pain program will end their pain entirely, but it may provide patients with a way to reduce their pain without the risk of side effects from prescription drugs, or a reliance on potentially addictive medication.
While research shows that opioids relieve acute pain, the Centers for Disease Control report that there’s little evidence that they ease chronic pain, which is typically defined as pain that continues for three months after the initial injury or ailment.
The pain schools are part of an effort by the VA to change how patients think about and chronic pain.
“Right now, many patients feel like it’s a mechanical model of pain, where if you just take the part out and replace it or suppress the pain in the brain, that takes care of it. But it doesn’t,” said Dr. Rollin Gallagher, the national pain management director for the Veterans Health Administration, reports WBUR.
‘I made promises to the people that I lost’— How the Iraq war forged a Navy SEAL’s path to Harvard Medical School and NASA
Navy Lt. Jonny Kim went viral last week when NASA announced that he and 10 other candidates (including six other service members) became the newest members of the agency's hallowed astronaut corps. A decorated Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School, Kim in particular seems to have a penchant for achieving people's childhood dreams.
However, Kim shared with Task & Purpose that his motivation for living life the way he has stems not so much from starry-eyed ambition, but from the pain and loss he suffered both on the battlefields of Iraq and from childhood instability while growing up in Los Angeles. Kim tells his story in the following Q&A, which was lightly edited for length and clarity:
You can almost smell the gunpowder in the scene captured by a Marine photographer over the weekend, showing a Marine grunt firing a shotgun during non-lethal weapons training.
A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.
Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.
"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."
New Vietnam War movie 'The Last Full Measure' takes some well-deserved shots at the military’s award process
Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.
With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.