Tom Petty. Prince. Heath Ledger. From world-renowned entertainers to blue-collar workers taking the edge off nagging aches and pains, nearly one in three people in the U.S. use prescription opioids. And as that number continues to balloon, the U.S. healthcare industry must confront one critical truth: opioids are killing Americans.

What’s more, mounting evidence based on comprehensive research continues to invalidate the assumed benefit of opioid-based treatment. In point of fact, a 2015 report assembled by a panel of researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health presented this verdict: Systematic reviews concluded that the overall effectiveness of chronic opioid treatment for chronic non-cancer pain is limited, the effect on improved human function is very small, and the safety profile of opioids is very poor.

The healthcare industry faces a problem as urgent as it is complex. “To reverse this epidemic,” the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says in summary of its opioid estimates, “we need to improve the way we treat pain.”


Chronic Pain Management with QLI Rehabilitation

Rather than simply improve treatment, QLI seeks to change it entirely. Where pain management programs across the country address chronic pain with medication adjustment and general therapy, QLI tailors a rehabilitation program based on the individual’s specific, unique values, ultimately filling the void created and left behind by opioids. What parts of life do they want to return to the most? What are the interests and passions most closely associated with their identity? From these questions, QLI provides a uniquely holistic approach that redefines the industry standard for chronic pain treatment.

It starts with a line in the sand: Every client of QLI’s inpatient pain rehabilitation program discharges 100 percent opioid-free. But that represents only a first step, not an end goal. As opioid medication is tapered out of daily routines, the individual participates in specialized therapy that systematically breaks down problematic mindsets and habits that exacerbate physical pain.

“It’s our responsibility to alter the expectation of there being a magic pill that makes pain just go away,” says Dr. Jeff Snell, QLI’s Director of Neuropsychology.

“If you’re on medication, sitting alone on the couch might be just as painful as throwing the ball around outside with the kids. In fact, pain medication might not be helping you at all in that instance, and you’re being disconnected from your family and your values as a parent. So you might as well get out there and throw the ball around.”

Clients are pushed through the barriers of chronic pain with a balance of physical rehabilitation, alternative forms of treatment (like deep-tissue massage, dry needling, acupuncture, yoga and tai chi), and activity driven by the individual’s values, passions and goals. Combined, these treatment plans contribute to significant functional restoration and provide massive emotional support.

At the conclusion of a client’s eight-to-12-week program, their newfound restoration is put into practice — whether through home visits, in the community or through intensive simulations. “We build strategies and routines that are going to translate to their lives after QLI,” says Megan Potter, QLI’s coordinator of physical therapy services and one of the clinical leads of QLI’s Pain Rehabilitation Program. “That transition is a huge part of the success for the people we serve and the important piece other pain treatment programs miss.”

Through weeks of planning, strategy and execution, QLI’s team maneuvers chronic pain sufferers back to family responsibilities, back to their passions and back to life. Eschewing the standards and paradigms of traditional pain management models, QLI is not only sparking wildfire change within the industry’s treatment of chronic pain, it is redefining the very concept of pain for those afflicted by it. QLI empowers men and women to live through their ailment, not in service of it — the opportunity to live beyond pain.

Categories: Chronic Pain, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Neuroplasticity, QLI Magazine