THE RESEARCH

THE RESEARCH

Evaluation of pain in youth exposed to traumatic experiences

Status:

Recruiting

Funding:

Canadian Pain Society/Pfizer Early Career Investigator Research Grant

About:
Pediatric chronic pain affects 1 in 4 Canadian youth. If left unmanaged, it can lead to chronic pain problems and mental health disorders (e.g. posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)) into adulthood. Adolescents with chronic pain report having more significant PTSD symptoms as compared to pain-free peers. It is thought that the experience of trauma might increase the risk of developing or worsening of pain symptoms due to changes in brain regions that activate in response to both traumatic and painful experiences. We are exploring whether greater PTSD symptoms are associated with alterations in brain structure/function and whether these brain changes are related to the development of pain sensitivity or pain symptomology in youth. The earlier we can identify at-risk individuals and intervene, the more likely it is that we will be able to prevent the transition from acute to chronic pain.

Can brain stimulation enhance outcomes associated with intensive rehabilitation for youth with chronic pain?

Status:

Commenced October 2020

Funding:

TBD

About:
Severe chronic pain that impairs daily functioning affects 100,000 to 160,000 youth. The Intensive Pain Rehabilitation Program (IPRP) was developed to help adolescents with chronic pain who are not progressing in traditional outpatient pain therapies. IPRP is a 3-week (8 hours/day for 15 days) program provided by an interdisciplinary team, designed to help youth resume normal daily functioning. Following IPRP, youth report less pain-related disability, less anxiety and depressive symptoms and improved school attendance. Repetitive brain stimulation has shown to be effective for treating depression in both adults and youth. We will be adding personalized, image-guided brain stimulation to enhance improvements in pain, brain, and mental health outcomes at discharge from the program, and compare these outcomes to previous IPRP cohorts. By introducing brain stimulation to IPRP, we can directly target an area of the brain we know to be altered by chronic pain and potentially improve outcomes.

Sweet or sour: the effects of sucrose on the developing brains and cognitive outcomes of infants born very preterm

Status:

Co-leading with Dr. Tiffany Rice. Planning to Commence in 2021

Funding:

TBD

About:
Administration of oral sucrose prior to and during invasive procedures has been the most frequently studied intervention for the relief of procedural pain in neonates. Sucrose has been found to be fairly effective in reducing behavioural responses to singular events such as heel lance, venipuncture and intramuscular injection. However, despite its frequency of use in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the mechanisms of action and long-term effects of repeated sucrose administration on the brain and neurodevelopmental outcomes of infants born extremely preterm are not known. Given the absence of evidence for an analgesic action of sucrose and possible concerns regarding the long-term effects of repeated sucrose administration, the use of oral sucrose for procedural pain management requires further investigation.