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  • 4 Videos (and a Podcast) to Get You Ready for Pain Awareness Month

    September is National Pain Awareness Month—a perfect opportunity to spread the word about the important role physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) play in the management of pain, and the unique knowledge they bring to the table.

    Need a reminder of why patient access to physical therapy for pain is so crucial, or inspiration to get you thinking about your own activities during National Pain Awareness Month? Here are some standout videos—and a podcast—that do just that. All but 1 were produced by APTA.

    A Journey Out of Pain and Addiction, and a PT's Crucial Role
    What it's about: In his keynote address for the 2019 APTA NEXT Conference and Exhibition, US Army Master Sergeant (Retired) Justin Minyard recounted the injuries he received during rescue attempts first at the Pentagon during the 9-11 attacks and then while on a mission in Afghanistan. But the heart of Minyard's story is about what happened afterward: the multiple fusion and other surgeries, the intense pain, his slide into addiction, and his eventual freedom from opioids. He readily acknowledges that his recovery was thanks in large part to the work of an interprofessional team that included a dedicated physical therapist.

    Why you should listen: Minyard's brutal honesty and his ability to tell a story with both humor and pathos pull you in from the start. And the gratitude he has for his PT—he describes her as not just his physical therapist "but my psychologist, my sounding board, my marriage counselor, my educator of my options, and my kick in the ass"—will remind you of why you love the profession.

    Beyond Opioids: Transforming Pain Management to Improve Health
    What it's about: This video of a February 2018 Facebook Live panel discussion hosted by APTA provides a wide range of perspectives on physical therapy's role in pain management. Panelists include a patient advocate, a representative from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a member of the US House of Representatives, the President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, and 2 PTs working on the front lines of pain management.

    Why you should watch: It's fascinating to watch the ways in which panelists' individual perspectives weave a unified message: that there's a need for increased and more open communication, better identification of risk factors for opioid abuse, greater use of multidisciplinary approaches to pain management, and more education delivered to patients, providers, employers, and entire communities.

    Congressional Briefing on Treating Pain
    What it's about: This video, a straightforward recording of an APTA-sponsored Congressional briefing held in May 2019, makes the case for better policy support for nonpharmacological approaches to pain management through the perspectives of 2 PTs and Cindy Whyde, a high school teacher whose son Elliot struggled with opioid addiction after receiving the drugs for a football injury.

    Why you should watch: Cindy Whyde's story is a heartbreaking (and frustrating) testimony to how far the health care system still has to go when it comes to patient education on and access to nondrug pain management approaches. Jen Bambrough, PT, DPT, and Sarah Wenger, PT, DPT (Wenger was also a panelist for the Facebook Live event), discuss how more thoughtful, collaborative, and patient-centered strategies can and do work.

    How Physical Therapy is Helping to Fight the Opioid Crisis
    What it's about: In September 2018, Prevention magazine editor Sarah Smith interviewed Sarah Wegner, PT, DPT, about the ways PTs and PTAs can help patients explore nonpharmacological management of pain.

    Why you should watch: It's a great interview aimed at a general audience, and Wenger is articulate and passionate about the profession. The half-hour program also explores the training, knowledge, and skills PTs must acquire, and why this combination is so well-suited to pain management. A great intro to physical therapy for the consumer—particularly the consumer struggling with pain.

    "You've Got No Bigger Fan Than the Surgeon General"
    What it's about: This APTA interview with US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, took place just after he finished an address at the association's Component Leadership Meeting in January 2019. Adams' address at the meeting amounted to a resounding endorsement for physical therapy as a key player in the battle against pain and the opioid crisis. The video interview afterwards recaps his main points.

    Why you should watch: It never hurts to have friends in high places, and Adams is an enthusiastic supporter of physical therapy. His commitment to bringing the profession to the table, pressing for more multidisciplinary approaches to pain and addiction, and bringing the message of responsible opioid stewardship into communities comes through loud and clear.

    [Editor's note: stay tuned for more APTA activities during National Pain Month coming up in mid-September,]