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Can looking at art make for better doctors?

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(Article published on The Conversation)

In 1984, artist Jon Cattapan’s sister Adriana died in a car accident. His painting, titled Sister, and some accompanying drawings, were a response to this tragedy. Sister depicts a grey-shrouded body lying on a bright red structure. Behind it are five figures in two separate groups. One represents living relatives and friends; the other, the spiritual world.

Sister’s distorted figures reflect Cattapan’s interest in primitivism and animism. Its colours and twisted forms project his anguish, and express the heightened intensity of the state of grieving. Cattapan has written about the disorientation experienced in grieving and also how the “topsy-turvy” space in all the Sister images represents his sister’s schizophrenia.

One day, a few months ago, a group of third year medical students spent a long time looking at these works, which were on display at the Ian Potter Museum of Art at Melbourne University.

They were encouraged by the Museum’s Academic Programs Curator to describe aspects of the painting as objectively as possible – its style, colours, content. Then they began to share their personal interpretations of the narrative.

Jon Cattapan, Sister, 1984 (oil on canvas). The University of Melbourne Art Collection, Gift of Jon Cattapan 2008.

Was the prone figure in the foreground dead or dying? What elements were more powerful? The Christian iconography and emotion on the figures’ faces? Their gestures? The insistent vibrancy of the colours? Or the apparently chaotic mix of formal elements? How did their interpretation change when the examination shifted to the Sister Drawings, hung alongside the painting, which are like snapshots of aspects of the story?

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Resources for Treating Chronic Pain by the Victoria Pain Specialists (Vicpain) …MY pain team!

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Forgive my bossiness but this post comes from a desperate experience that I lived for 4.5 years. That’s a long time for someone with increasing chronic pain levels and not much hope. I felt isolated and alone in a very foreign world without appropriate treatment, compassion and understanding.

Nine years later, I’m hopeful a situation like mine can be prevented with the knowledge provided in the following resources. Vicpain are leaders in pain treatment and management, I can certainly vouch for that!

Please read the resources, learn them, share them… and if you require information on chronic pain, follow Vicpain. (more…)

Retrainpain.org

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It’s finally filtering through my brain: It’s going to be VERY hard work most days and it’s up to me to keep my butt in gear and stay on the treatment and management trail.

You’ll all be getting sick of reading my badger about this, but the research is out. Patient experiences have been in the making (for decades now), and the biggest sign that the hard work is cut out for people with chronic pain comes from the many who are now drug dependent with either increasing levels of pain or who sadly have lost their lives – not from the medication – but from the battle.

I get sick of filtering through paragraphs and words and med talk that I don’t quite understand (not to mention the pain levels soar for some peculiar reason) and as an artist, I still find it really difficult to present my pain experience to my readers, family and friends in a simple form.

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Bridge for Pelvic Pain Presents: 1st Annual Pelvic Pain Seminar

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Full agenda and topics available at www.bridgeforpelvicpain.org

Colorado Springs, CO, United States

This seminar will be an immersion in learning about chronic pelvic pain from diagnosis and treatment to the patient perspective encompassing a mind, body and spirit connection. In this full day event attendees will learn about chronic pelvic pain, integrative treatments and modalities from doctors, physical therapists, counselors, health and wellness experts and patient advocates. While the seminar is geared toward doctors, PTs, integrative healthcare providers and medical students, the information and presentations will also be of value to patients,their significant others and caregivers.
Keynote Presenters: (more…)

Drug dependency lessons from Pharma ads and my two mothers

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Carrying Dog

I can’t stand TV as it hurts to sit or lie back and watch but recently, while tuning in to one of the very few shows I do watch, I caught a message from a Pharmaceutical (Pharma) advertisement about pain medication.

It made me think about my personal situation and about my two ageing mothers who are in daily pain – both drug dependent and waiting for a pill to pop out of the sky and into their weekly pill box to ‘make them better’.

It made me think about the way they’re currently trying to dodge the countless darts from the ageing process that are coming at them thick and fast – one striking occasionally, that they still somehow manage to catch and quickly tuck under a very thick carpet.

Back to the TV.

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A new DVD resource, Healing the Pain ‘Down There’: A Guide for Females with Persistent Genital and Sexual Pain

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There have been many times during my years of chronic pain where I wondered, ‘Why didn’t I know that?’. Usually, the information is quite basic and I feel as though I’ve been deprived by never knowing something so crucial and important about my own body.

I was asked to view and give feedback before this thorough resource was released, and a few times, throughout the 284 minutes of run time, I asked myself, ‘Why didn’t I know that?’.

This DVD isn’t just about managing pain, but rather a clear and concise  resource for females… It should be put on some International educational agenda. (more…)

Cake, Jennifer Aniston

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(Official site www.cakemovie.net)

Story

Claire Bennett (Jennifer Aniston) is in pain. Her physical pain is evident in the scars that line her body and the way she carries herself, wincing with each tentative step. She’s no good at hiding her emotional pain either. Blunt to the point of searing insult, Claire’s anger seethes out of her with nearly every interaction. She has driven away her husband, her friends — even her chronic-pain support group has kicked her out. (more…)

Ambrosia

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Ambrosia

Thank you PainAustralia and Chronic Pain Australia

You are invited to attend a special preview of a new feature film ‘Ambrosia’ by director Rhiannon Bannenberg presented during National Pain Week at Fox Studios on Thursday 23rd of July.

The film which deals with the psychological impact of chronic pain on a young woman’s life has been selected by hosts Painaustralia and Chronic Pain Australia to be a key event in the annual week-long festival.

National Pain Week 20 – 26 July aims to remove the stigma and silence around the invisible burden carried by those who suffer chronic pain and their carers. This screening of Ambrosia which adds to an Australia-wide line-up of activities will appeal to a very broad audience.

Tickets can only be purchased online before the event. Tickets will not be available on the night. (more…)

Arthritis & Osteoporosis WA, Making Sense of Pain June 26 – 27, 2015

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Calling all Health Professionals
“MAKING SENSE OF PAIN”
Our fourth inter-disciplinary workshop

Register now.
Early bird registrations close on 12th June!

Presenters & RegistrantsWe offer health professionals a unique opportunity to update their knowledge and skills and to effectively transfer them into their clinical practice setting.

Our experienced team, which comprises “pain champions” together with experienced clinicians and researchers, present a unique learning experience conducted in a user-friendly environment.

Date: Friday 26th – Saturday 27th June, 2015.

Presenters: Ms Melanie Galbraith (Physiotherapist), Assoc-Professor Vance Locke (Academic Psychologist), Ms Jane Muirhead (Occupational Therapist), Dr John Quintner (Physician in Rheumatology and Pain Medicine), Ms Mary Roberts (Clinical Psychologist).

Pain champions: to be announced

Venue: Wyllie Arthritis Centre, 17 Lemnos St. SHENTON PARK WA

[N.B. This workshop is fully catered and FREE on-site parking is available.]

For details and to Register or contact:
Melanie Galbraith, MelanieG@arthritiswa.org.au or
John Quintner, jqu33431@bigpond.net.au

View information about previous workshops

Dr Doidge, Are Some Brains More Plastic than Others?

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I never shop from my phone, but given Theo and I were away for the weekend (researching our next phase of life), I felt it was worth the risk responding to The School of Life‘s Dr Norman Doidge event and booked our two tickets.

Glad I did. The event was sold out within the week and over 300 people were on the cancellation list.

In 2011, after my peripheral stimulation device was implanted (and having my reading ability restored), I reached for  Dr Doidge‘s, The Brain That Changes Itself, and grasped the idea to contact Prof Lorimer Moseley who was referenced within the book.

That idea led to my diagnosis.

So my mind ran. What might happen if I actually met Dr Doidge?! (more…)

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What is Pudendal Neuralgia (PN)?

Most simply put PN is Carpal Tunnel in the pelvis/buttocks. Compression of the Pudendal Nerve occurs after trauma to the pelvis and is aggrevated with pressure. The pain is often described as a toothache like pain, with spasms, sensations of tingling, numbness, or burning. It can be very debilitating.

Putting pain management in the hands of the patient

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