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Pain Management: Healing the Hurt

Pain management therapist and patient

You may not expect to find massage, aromatherapy and acupuncture within a hospital setting, but thanks to the generosity of a thoughtful donor, these services are now part of Cook Children's Pain Management Program.

Imagine being a child in the hospital, with several weeks of treatment ahead of you before you can go home. Doctors and nurses enter your room multiple times a day, dressed in isolation gowns, gloves and masks. They visit with you about your medication, your progress, your upcoming procedures and then they leave. During some visits, someone takes your blood or checks your vitals.

Picture now a different caregiver entering your room. The woman is also gowned, but she's here to give your aching body a therapeutic massage. She's part of Cook Children's Pain Management team.

Cook Children's is one of a few children's hospitals in the United States to provide our patients with a dedicated Pain Management program. Therapy options include interventional pain procedures, medical acupuncture, relaxation therapy, guided imagery, biofeedback, hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Massage therapy was added to our program in March 2015, thanks to the support of a generous donor who believes in the healing power of touch. The Pain Management team has been able to train several physicians in acupuncture, hire a massage therapist and send two staff members to become certified in clinical aromatherapy.

These services are not meant to be alternative therapy, but rather complementary, enhancing the care patients are already receiving. Acupuncture can enhance the flow of energy through the body as a patient receiveschemotherapy, and that can counteract the nausea and fatigue. Massage therapy can relieve a body, stiff after being sick in bed for several days. These therapies positively impact patients' pain levels, attitude, anxiety, depression and sleep, to name a few.

Physician referrals for these services come from nearly every department across the medical center. Joni Carroll, Cook Children's full-time massage therapist, handles approximately 25-30 patient visits each week, from 2-month-olds to teenagers. Many of them look forward to her visits; some tell her this is the only time that they don't hurt.

Adrian, a 14-year-old patient, believes in the benefits. "Usually there are days where I am just sore or in pain. Joni helps to soothe that," said Adrian. "In the past, my feet were really sore, just hurting, and it was kind of hard for me to walk around. This is when I was back on the bone marrow transplant unit and she would come by and massage my feet, which helped. It doesn't entirely get rid of it, but it helps."

By having acupuncture and massage therapy available to our patients, we are proving our commitment to their well-being as a whole, not just their immediate health needs. It's about caring for their quality of life.

We are grateful that the heart and generosity of an anonymous donor made it possible to bring these holistic therapies to our patients. No patient family is billed for these services.

To help support the Pain Management program, contact Cook Children's Health Foundation at 682-885-4105 or visit or visit cookchildrenspromise.org to donate.

Your generosity does not go unnoticed by others. It is emulated by those who realize its value to the community. It is revered by those who care for our patients because it enables them to do what they do best. And it is appreciated by every patient and every family who benefits from it.

Thank you from each family, patient, nurse, physician and staff member whose life you will have touched with your generosity.