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London's pain drain
By Michelle Broersma
There's a new medical face at Western to help the London community deal with chronic pain.
Yesterday, in a ceremony at the Health Sciences Addition, pain specialist Patricia Morley-Forster was named the first Earl Russell chair of pain management in Western's faculty of medicine and dentistry.
According to published studies, 29 per cent of the population or about nine million Canadians suffer from chronic pain, which is defined as pain that lasts for more than six months.
"Pain management is on the verge of explosion," Morley-Forster said. "London is blessed with many people who have a wide range of disciplines dealing with pain."
Morley-Forster will also act as medical director of the interdisciplinary pain program in Western's faculty of medicine and dentistry and St. Joseph's Health Care London, said Carol Herbert, dean of medicine and dentistry.
The position, which will include conducting research to determine what contributes to the change from acute to chronic pain, was made possible with a $1 million financial contribution from Earl Russell, a Western professor emeritus.
Russell served in the Korean War and learned new ways to relieve soldier's pain, Herbert said. "[Russell] has made great contributions to the pain management field," she said.
"I am honoured to be here because there are so many people who have put their hearts and courage into this," Russell said.
Pain management involves diagnosing the original source of the pain such as nerve injury, muscular or arthritic pain and setting out a treatment plan including medication, physiotherapy, nerve blocks or changes in the work environment.
Dwight Moulin, associate professor in the department of clinical neurological sciences and oncology and director of pain and symptom management at the London Regional Cancer Centre, said he jumped at the opportunity to speak at yesterday's announcement.
"[Morley-Forster] is ideally suited for this position and her innovative ideas will help raise awareness of the need for pain management centres," he added.
The new chair will lead to breakthroughs in pain research not only in Canada, but in the rest of the world, Herbert said.