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Professor Chris Eccleston
Professor Chris Eccleston

Press Release - 30 May 2007

Kids in pain: documentary shows how teens learn to live with pain

A Bath-based service that helps children and adolescents who suffer from long-term pain will be highlighted in a Channel 4 documentary on Sunday (When the drugs don’t work, 3 June, 8.20am).

The documentary’s director, Kate Monaghan, is a former patient of the Bath Pain Management Unit who wanted to tell the story of the unit and highlight the problem of childhood pain to a wider audience.

Around one in ten children lives with pain as part of their everyday lives – but the Bath Pain Management Unit at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases NHS Foundation Trust is the only service in the UK to offer a residential rehabilitation programme tailored to the needs of young people aged 11-18.

Typically these children suffer from persistent headaches, back pain, stomach cramps, muscle or joint pain – to the extent that they are often unable to attend school.

The team is made up of psychologists, occupational and physio therapists, medical professionals, and researchers who work closely together to provide a unique approach to the treatment of pain, and help and support for parents.

The Bath unit pioneered this approach to treatment and has published research on its effectiveness in both the scientific and medical press.

“Two thirds of the adolescents we see go back to school fulltime,” said Professor Chris Eccleston, Director of the Bath Pain Management Unit which is a collaboration between the RNHRD and the School for Health.

“This is a remarkable result for people who before then had difficulty sitting, walking, and were deeply anxious or depressed.

“Children and their parents can find that living daily with pain that won’t go away is highly distressing – especially when over-the-counter and prescribed medications don’t seem to work.

“Those who ask their GP to be referred to us get the kind of therapy they and their parents need to get their lives back.

“The long-term benefits of the programme we offer are outstanding, and we regularly take people from all over the country.

“This treatment, and the related research, has attracted significant international interest, with centres in Germany, Holland, Canada, and the USA attempting to develop similar programmes.”

The documentary charts the experiences of two adolescents as they go through the programme.

It was directed by Kate Monaghan, 23, for Maverick Television and is being shown as part of the Channel 4’s New Shoots series, which gives deaf and disabled directors the chance to make their first documentary.

In 2002, Kate participated in a three week residential adolescent pain management programme at the unit.

“Before I came on the course I felt very down and that I had no future,” she said.

“I felt there was no way I was ever going to be able to move away from my parents who were looking after me, no way I could go to university.

“I felt so ill I couldn’t cope with anything.

“When I met the clinical team I felt like I had been given a lifeline, and was really excited about taking part.

“It was amazing to meet others in the same situation - until then I felt like I was the only one; meeting others gave me lots of strength.

“I have met lots of medical professionals who don’t understand so to meet a whole team who understand what you are going through, and that can help, was brilliant.

“The course has completely transformed my outlook on life.

“Although I still have the pain it has taught me that I can cope with it as part of my life and I can achieve things.

“I have been to university and got a job in TV, which is what I have always wanted to do but never thought I could.

“I wanted to do this documentary to highlight how wonderful this unit is; there will be lots of people out there who feel how I did - that their life is over.

“I wanted to show them that there are people who can help.

“I also wanted to highlight the service to other healthcare professionals so they can see how important this service is."

Suzy Williams, Service Lead for the Bath Pain Management Unit, said: “By the end of the programme, young people are significantly fitter.

“We see an increase in the amount of education they receive, and they are out and about with friends and enjoying life.

“The programme brings real long-term benefits for them and their families.

“Young people get a great deal of support and confidence from the sessions and being part of a group experiencing similar problems.”

The Bath Pain Management Unit is an NHS service and also offers treatment programmes for adults suffering with long-term pain.

For more information or for referral advice, people should contact the Bath Pain Management Unit on 01225 473 427.

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Notes

The RNHRD NHS Foundation Trust is a national specialist rehabilitation and rheumatology hospital based in Bath. Offering services to adults, children and young people the trust has expertise general and complex:


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