Spring 2023 Newsletter
By Darshon Reed, Ph.D., Kalista Pettus, & Deanna Rumble, Ph.D.
College of Health and Behavioral Sciences
University of Central Arkansas
Opioid addictions and chronic pain have increased dramatically in the state of Arkansas over the past 5 years. Arkansas is number 2 in the nation for over-prescribing opioid medications according to Arkansas Take Back, which provides a secure way for Arkansans to monitor and dispose of their unused prescription medications (State of Arkansas Office of Drug Director, 2023). This is likely due to the impact of chronic pain on both the physical and mental health of patients. Chronic pain is defined as any pain that lasts longer than three months after the initial injury or stressor (Lunde & Sieberg, 2020). According to the Centers for Disease Control (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021), 27.1% of Arkansans suffer from arthritis which is a main leader in chronic pain. Chronic pain, such as arthritis, can now likely be linked to stress and other psychological factors thanks to new research insights on the topic. With this information, it is critical that health professionals understand how to treat and manage pain to avoid further opioid addictions, overdoses, and other opioid-related tragedies.
The UCA College of Health and Behavioral Sciences is taking the initiative to train future healthcare professionals in knowledge of pain, pain experience, and pain education in order to understand different pain manifestations across populations. Specific courses and training experiences were offered over the 2022-2023 academic year to implement pain education. A few example experiences are included below.
- The Occupational Therapy Department offers specialized courses such as Holistic Interventions: Adult to End of Life and Occupational Therapy in Rehabilitation and Disability in their graduate program where students learn pain science and regularly run pain assessments and interventions. Students from the program will utilize these skills by conducting pain assessments alongside physical therapy and nursing students for individuals 50 and older at an upcoming community health fair hosted by the UCA College of Health & Behavioral Sciences in Conway on Saturday, April 15th.
- The Psychology and Counseling Department offers an elective course in health psychology and research courses that students are required to take as their capstone experience that include exposure to pain assessment tools and pain education. Dr. Deanna Rumble is a key faculty member that includes pain education in the capstone course. In her research lab students study pain, discuss the different pain rating scales, learn about clinically relevant pain populations, and theories behind why people experience pain. Dr. Rumble’s lab allows students to do a basic cold water pressor task that is frequently used in conditioned pain modulation. Students also conduct tactile filaments and use TENS units to simulate pain. Some of the research questions students have addressed in the lab include: “Does physical discomfort impact cognitive challenges?” and “Can online induction of mood affect self-reported pain expectations?”. Dr. Rumble’s students will present the findings of these research questions at the upcoming Arkansas Symposium for Psychology Students on Saturday, April 22, 2023.
- The School of Nursing invited Nisa Khan, APRN, FNP-C, to talk with third-year BSN to DNP Nurse Practitioner Students about alternative treatments for pain and when to refer for other types of treatment rather than increasing opioids. Students from the nursing program will utilize this knowledge when assisting occupational and physical therapy students with pain assessments and education at an upcoming community health fair hosted by the UCA College of Health & Behavioral Sciences in Conway on April 15th.
- The Physical Therapy department hosted a special lecture by Dr. Adriaan Louw, PT, Ph.D. for students, faculty, and the public on November 3, 2023. Dr. Louw completed his doctorate in pain neuroscience education and is a Certified Pain Specialist. Dr. Louw talked about how science is changing our approach to pain and the incorporation of pain science in undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students from the physical therapy program will utilize this knowledge when conducting pain assessments and education with occupational therapy and nursing students for individuals 50 and older at an upcoming community health fair hosted by the UCA College of Health & Behavioral Sciences in Conway on April 15th.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, September 23). Arthritis Statistics by State. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/state-data-current.htm
Lunde, C.E., & Sieberg C.B. (2020). Walking the Tightrope: A Proposed Model of Chronic Pain and Stress. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 14(270). doi: 10.3389/fnins.2020.00270
State of Arkansas Office of Drug Director. (2023, April 4). The Arkansas Opidemic. Arkansas Take Back. https://artakeback.org/opioid-education/arkansasopidemic/