“This is a unique, historic moment to capitalize on what we know works to effectively treat pain. It marks the beginning of a cultural shift in how health care is practiced in the military.”
Military to Implement Integrative Medicine for Comprehensive Pain Management
In June 2011, senior military medical leadership met with The Bravewell Collaborative and renowned scientists and physicians to discuss improving pain management for warriors and veterans through the use of integrative medicine. This meeting, held at the Pentagon, was part of the Army’s effort to provide “a standardized DoD and VHA vision and approach to pain management to optimize the care for warriors and their families.”
The 2009 Army Pain Management Task Force (PMTF) report called for building best practices for the continuum of acute and chronic care based on a “holistic, multidisciplinary, integrative approach to care.” The Army Comprehensive Pain Management Campaign Plan Symposium is an important step in implementing the PMTF recommendations.
“This is a unique, historic moment to capitalize on what we know works to effectively treat pain,” said Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, MD, PhD. “It marks the beginning of a cultural shift in how health care is practiced in the military.”
Symposium participants reviewed the latest science in pain management and how integrative interventions can not only help improve pain management but also advance the overall health and “mission readiness” of the DoD and VHA, which is vital to the safety of our nation.
“We have an extraordinary generation in the military right now,” Schoomaker noted. “Today’s wounded warriors do not want to be defined by their injuries.” They want to live fully and in some cases, they want to return to active duty.
It is estimated that millions of our nation’s warriors and veterans live with chronic pain and research shows that pain reduces quality of life, work and relationships. Integrative strategies, such as those presented by leadership from the Allina Health System in Minnesota and the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in California, have been shown in clinical research to reduce pain scores by as much as fifty percent.
Brig. Gen. Richard Thomas, the assistant Surgeon General (Force Projection), noted that many medical advances have come through wartime medicine, such as the development of the yellow fever vaccine by Walter Reed and the discovery by Dr. R. Adams Cowley of the golden hour in emergency medicine, the time period following traumatic injury during which if proper treatment is administered, lives can be saved. “Many innovations in military medicine have changed American health care,” said Col. Kevin Galloway, Chief of Staff for the Army Pain Management Task Force, “…and we are approaching the tremendous need for improvement in pain management with this same spirit.”
“The nine integrative medicine centers in the Bravewell Clinical Network have been developing successful models of integrative care for the past nine years and we are pleased to be able to share these with the military and the VHA,” explained Christy Mack, President of The Bravewell Collaborative.
Schoomaker tasked the leadership in the room with developing a sustainable, economically viable system of integrative care for pain. “We need to ensure we have the healthiest military in the world,” he said.
For more information about the Army Pain Management Task Force, please visit: http://www.armymedicine.army.mil/prr/pain_management.html.