Contending that the effects of addiction outweigh pain management, the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF) has launched a medical research initiative to treat chronic pain without opiates.
The new approach aims to craft customized treatments to alleviate or eliminate recurring pain for cerebral palsy (CP) patients of all ages.
“For most individuals, pain is a relatively short-term phenomenon related to illness, injury or medical procedures,” said Jim Blackman, MD, CPARF’s medical director, in a press release. “However, individuals with cerebral palsy commonly develop excruciating pain syndromes resulting from persistently spastic muscles, abnormal forces on muscles and joints, atypical postures, and gastrointestinal disturbances.”
Focused on treatment, prevention and cure, the three-year plan entails funding institutional research to understand the pathophysiology and manifestations of chronic pain, and leading a research team of top chronic pain and cerebral palsy clinicians, researchers and other experts in a team-science model that promotes swift advancements.
It also will involve teaming with academic, pharmaceutical, business and healthcare sectors to design research protocols and accelerate commercialization of new treatments, and using prevention, and cutting-edge, opiates-free treatment to eliminate chronic pain.
As part of the plan, the foundation said it will support a chronic pain study recently launched at Johns Hopkins University that will examine the effect of individual injuries that lead to CP, and learn how pain symptoms correlate with sensation and certain abnormal biomarkers. Led by Alexander Hoon, MD, the study will entail identifying CP patients most at risk for suffering chronic pain, so that through early intervention, pain symptoms can be prevented and treated effectively. A study update is expected to be presented at the Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine.
As it stands now, however, pain treatment often negatively affects patients’ quality of life, Blackman said. Obversely, treatment alternatives would reduce addiction levels and improve and save lives.
“The number and variety of symptoms that result in discomfort requires focused and extensive research into the causes and patterns of pain,” said CPARF chief executive officer Nadine Dehgan. “Our researchers are committed to identifying new ways to treat and relieve chronic pain other than through opiates.”
In related news, a recent study urges a multidisciplinary, standardized approach to pain management for young CP patients. Called “Management of pain in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy: a systematic review,” the study was published in Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.
The CPARF funds research to treat, prevent and ultimately find a cure for cerebral palsy, a group of developmental disorders affecting patients’ movement ability. Globally, about 17 million people have the disease, according to the CPARF. Of them, about 80 percent suffer daily chronic pain.