Since 2002, the Mindfulness-Based Chronic Pain Management (MBCPM™) 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 2019 more than 200 health care professionals have taken the professional curriculum training, now done in collaboration with University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. NNC focuses on teaching, mentoring and accrediting health care practitioners who facilitate the MBCPM courses, in addition to publishing, updating and distributing the course materials.
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” and “Trauma-Sensitive”, to professionals in their challenging work environments. These programmes reduce stress and burnout potential, while also giving greater insight into the origins of chronic pain and disease. Modelled on 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. Workbooks for both pain and stress are now available in French, and meditations for the pain course are available in French.
The MBCPM programmes enhance 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 basic and advanced review (revision) courses.
Guided meditations are part of the programmes, and are also available as recordings 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.
Through training facilitators, and the use of telemedicine, courses have been spreading across Ontario and beyond, but more facilitators are still needed.
Research has demonstrated that the “off site” participants (via telemedicine) benefit almost as much as the “on site” participants on measures which include pain catastrophizing, mental health, suffering, and pain scores.