Caregivers as Advocates

Parents’ role vital in managing child’s chronic pain

When children have chronic pain, their anguish is shared by those who love them.

Parents and caregivers may feel at a loss about how to help their children, but they have an important role in the pain management process, says Gerard A. Banez, PhD, a pediatric psychologist at the Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital. “It is vital for parents to be strong advocates for their child. Critical to the success of any child experiencing pain is the acceptance and commitment to the fact that he/she can live a normal and valued life despite pain.”

If you have a child in chronic pain, know that you and your child are not alone. “There are good care and treatment options available,” says Dr. Banez, Director of the Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Program at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

Parents play a key role in reinforcing the notion that their children can lead normal lives, he says. “Encourage as much normal activity as possible so that they do not view themselves entirely defined by their pain. Promote daily school attendance, social interactions with peers, participation in sports and other extracurricular activities.”

It is also important to maintain open and nonjudgmental lines of communication with your child, he adds.

The Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Program is designed for children and teens whose chronic pain interferes with their normal activities. The program is the only pediatric specialty program in the nation to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) for interdisciplinary pain rehabilitation. Follow-up of patients seen in the program has revealed enduring improvement on real-world indices of pain and functioning 24 to 36 months following program completion.

“Our No. 1 goal is to get your child back to doing things they love to do – despite their pain,” Dr. Banez says.

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