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August 8, 2002

Jensen leads team on pain management

The National Institutes of Health has awarded UW researchers $4 million over five years to study chronic pain in people with disabilities. Dr. Mark Jensen, professor of rehabilitation medicine and principal investigator, will lead a team of researchers from the UW, Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center, VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of California Davis School of Medicine.

The program consists of three main projects to study the nature and scope of pain in adults and children with disabilities. Jensen will use survey research to examine chronic pain and quality of life. Previous research by this team has shown that adults with cerebral palsy, amputation and spinal cord injury often suffer from moderate to severe chronic pain. The current project will expand knowledge about chronic pain in people with disabilities to new disability groups (multiple sclerosis, amputation, post-polio syndrome, and neuromuscular disease) as well as to children with disabilities, and also examine in more detail the impact of pain on quality of life in these populations.

The second project, led by Dr. Dawn Ehde, assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine, is a clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of group cognitive therapy compared to an educational intervention in reducing pain, disability, and distress in people with chronic pain secondary to multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, or acquired amputation.

The third project, led by Dr. Joyce Engel, associate professor of rehabilitation medicine, is a large-scale study that seeks to reduce pain in children with disability. Specifically, Engel will examine the efficacy of biofeedback-assisted relaxation training for reducing pain in children with cerebral palsy, limb deficiency and spinal cord injury.