Wilford Hall conducting DOD chronic pain study

  • Published
  • By Sue Campbell
  • 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs
Wilford Hall Medical Center recently received a $2 million research grant to study the use of a pain rehabilitation program.

The study is aimed at musculoskeletal system conditions, which are the leading cause of hospitalization and disability for the U.S. armed forces.

The Department of Defense pays more than $1.5 billion per year to disabled servicemembers, and musculoskeletal conditions account for 40 to 50 percent of this amount.

The grant funds the study of an interdisciplinary chronic pain rehabilitation program, or ICPRP.

"The major hypothesis is that the ICPRP will help military personnel suffering from musculoskeletal disorders stay on active duty and be fully qualified to perform all their military duties," said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Alan Peterson, psychology flight commander at Wilford Hall and leader of the study. "The program will teach participants strategies to reduce or better manage their pain and improve their quality of life."

Peterson said that despite continuous advances in military medicine, the rates of disability cases within the military have increased at an alarming rate, nearly doubling between 1985 and 1994.

"The medical discharge of one active-duty U.S. military member in their 20s costs the government approximately $250,000 in lifetime disability costs, excluding health-care expenses," the doctor said. "Musculoskeletal system conditions are the single most common reason for medical discharges from military service."

Peterson will conduct the pain study in collaboration with Dr. Robert Gatchel from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. The study is expected to take about four years to complete and will involve military patients referred to Wilford Hall and nearby Brooke Army Medical Center from around the world.

"There is a clear need for clinical research to develop evidence-based assessment and treatment approaches to decrease the cost associated with these conditions within the U.S. armed forces," Peterson said. "It's a win-win situation if our research results in money saved and improved quality of life for our patients." (Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command News Service)