Since 2002, the Mindfulness-Based Chronic Pain Management (MBCPMTM) program has helped more than 12,000 participants. Dr. Gardner-Nix founded the program at St Michael’s Hospital and it was later expanded to include the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and other hospitals throughout Ontario via the Ontario Telemedicine Network.
Recognizing the need to increase the services offered through the program and the opportunities to broaden the scope of research, Dr. Gardner-Nix established The NeuroNova Centre for Mindfulness-Based Chronic Pain Management in 2010. Training new facilitators to lead the courses started in 2012, and up until 2017 more than 150 have been through the curriculum training. NNC focuses on teaching and accrediting health care practitioners who wish to include MBCPM in their practices, and publishes and distributes the course materials, while generating outcome data to supply the evidence for the effectiveness of the courses.
In 2016, NNC changed its name to “NeuroNova Centre for Mindful Solutions Inc.” reflecting a broader mandate of bringing the same course elements, designed over the evolution of the programme to be “Trauma-Informed”, to professionals in their challenging work environments. These programmes help with their own self care, reducing stress and burnout potential, while caring for clients who can be challenging. The training also gives greater insight into the origins of chronic pain and disease. In addition to the pain course, a Mindfulness Based Chronic Stress Management (MBCSM) course is now available in workbook and accompanying meditations and has been introduced for corporate use for staff.
“We have developed programmes for helping people to decrease their suffering from many chronic conditions” writes Dr. Gardner-Nix. “This programme enhances many of the interventions usually offered at pain clinics, such as procedures or drugs, which often provide only short term benefits.”
It is “in addition” to what is conventionally offered, not “instead of”, though many have found that it has reduced, prevented, and in some cases, eliminated, their need for medications and procedures.
Typical conditions include low back pain, fibromyalgia, migraines, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and there are many others. Participants are also referred with conditions such as depression and panic disorders.
The MBCPM programme is described in the book: “The Mindfulness Solution to Pain” available from bookstores and the major book seller websites. Well-respected pain specialists have endorsed the book, recognising its potential for enhancing pain management for many conditions. A course workbook, is available through NNC and can be used to enhance the level 1 and level 2 revision courses.
Guided meditations are part of the programmes, and are also available through NNC’s websites. A common problem amongst chronic pain and disease sufferers is lack of sleep and the meditation to enhance sleep is one of the most popular ones. Coping with painful and stressful conditions is much easier if sleep improves, and sleep also aids healing.
Through training other facilitators MBCPM courses have extended to other communities in Ontario and beyond, both on site, and through linking “on site” class patients with “off site” patients through Telemedicine: they can see and communicate with their facilitator and each other, as if in the same room.
Research has demonstrated that the “off site” participants benefit almost as much as the “on site” participants on measures which include pain catastrophizing, mental health, suffering, and pain scores.