SickKids receives funding to expand pain management services for children and adolescents
The landscape for chronic pain management for the children and youth of Ontario is changing. On March 6 the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) announced funding for the expansion of pain treatment services at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), including a partnership between SickKids and Holland-Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.
The investment will provide SickKids patients with better access to treatment for chronic pain, and will allow Holland-Bloorview to open an intensive rehabilitation clinic in partnership with SickKids, giving patients access to a specialized rehabilitation treatment program.
No such program existed in Canada prior to this announcement. The SickKids Chronic Pain Program, which was able to expand its resources with part of this funding, on its own provides comprehensive assessment and treatment of paediatric chronic pain, but lacked the infrastructure to implement ideal rehabilitative programs.
“The Chronic Pain Program at SickKids is the largest in Canada and is already a world leader,” says Dr. Fiona Campbell, Staff Anesthesiologist at SickKids and Co-Chair of the Paediatric Chronic Pain Advisory Network for the MOHLTC. “This much needed support will increase our capacity, reduce wait times for patients, and pave the way for further education and research.”
Now, with the SickKids-Holland-Bloorview partnership in place, an expected 1,325 patients per year will benefit from a comprehensive four-week program that will include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychological and psychiatric support, and individual and group therapy in both in-patient and day-patient settings.
This partnership has been several years in the making after a dire need was identified for a long-term standardized care program for treating chronic pain in children in Canada. Studies revealed that 11 to 38 per cent of children and adolescents suffer from chronic pain and that about five to eight per cent of those will develop devastating pain-related issues including social isolation, mood and anxiety disorders and limited physical functioning.
The effects of chronic pain on Ontario children also extend to their families. Missed time from work is not uncommon as is financial stress due to the need to seek rehabilitative treatment in the United States – an incredible financial burden that, if in some cases not funded by the MOHLTC, could cost up to $70,000 in out-of-pocket expenses per visit.
Fortunately, this is now set to change. “Children suffering from chronic pain will now be able to get the right care, in the right place, at the right time,” says Campbell. “It will alleviate suffering and allow kids to get back to living normal lives.”
This funding is part of the Government of Ontario’s broader investment of $3.6 million in paediatric chronic pain management allotted to paediatric hospitals across the province. See the news release from the MOHLTC.