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WCU's Spring Health Conference Focuses on "Brain Over Pain"

Most people won't go to a doctor (regardless of Obamacare) until they're in pain. Others can't seem to escape a doctor's office because they suffer from chronic pain. Either way, they're trying to find relief – relief that they themselves may be able to bring on.

David Patterson, well-known expert in the "biopsychosocial" approach for chronic pain management, will discuss "The Power of the Brain Over Pain" at West Chester University's annual integrative health conference. He will deliver the keynote at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 11, and present a four-hour workshop Saturday, April 12, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Patterson is a member of the American Board of Professional Psychology and a professor of psychology in the departments of Rehabilitation Medicine, Surgery and Psychology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He ascribes to the biopsychosocial model for pain management, which has become the most accepted form of assessing and treating a patient's pain. It examines the biology and neuroscience connected to pain, the psychological processes the patient is experiencing, that patient’s social interactions and their environment.

For example, Patterson asserts, hypnosis may help decrease a person’s sensation of pain, especially when combined with other modalities such as cognitive behavior psychotherapy and mindfulness practice. His book Clinical Hypnosis for Pain Control (2010, American Psychological Association) is the definitive resource in this area.

"Hypnosis can make one feel more comfortable -- after all, there is no pain until it reaches the brain cortex," agrees Edward F. Mackey Ph.D., CRNA, assistant professor of nursing and director of the West Chester University Mind-Body Institute of Applied Psychophysiology. Mackey's presentation on Saturday afternoon examines how self-hypnosis can control physical symptoms of pain. "Using suggestion has been shown to alter the brain's responses to pain," he says.

Much of the conference is directed toward a professional health care audience. The public can attend the keynote without registering for the full conference.

Patterson will speak from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday in Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall. General admission to the Friday evening keynote is $10; students $5.

Saturday's conference beings with Patterson's workshop at 8 a.m. Afternoon sessions begin at 1:05 p.m. and cover common postural misalignments and related muscle spasm and hypertonicity; treating and preventing musculoskeletal pain; functional foods; Tai Chi, reiki, acupuncture and herbs; catastrophizing and coping with pain.

Continuing education credits are available.

For registration and more information, visit the website.