An innovative 2-day invite-only workshop was recently held at Western University, hosted by Dave Walton with support from a strong organizing committee, March 25th and 26th 2015. The workshop brought together 30 participants representing leaders in the field of post-traumatic MSK pain, leaders in other fields that already exist here at Western, and key representatives from consumer stakeholders. The event was modeled as a hybrid of short TED-type talks interspersed with periods of active participation and idea generation. The goal of this event was to identify new directions for research into questions such as 'why do some people develop chronic pain and disability after an acute injury while others recover well?' and 'what is the relationship between pain and disability, and where to biology, psychology and the environment overlap?'. The event was organized by a committee led by Dr. Walton and included Drs. Joy MacDermid, Jeff Dixon, David Holdsworth, and Trevor Birmingham with special assistance from Shannon Woodhouse of the Joint Motion Program at Western. Professional facilitator Bill Aal from www.unconference.net kept the event on track and ensured a successful outcome.
The event was sponsored by The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western, the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, the two Clusters of Research Excellence at Western: Cognitive Neuroscience and MSK Health, the London Orthopedic Unit of the Ontario Physiotherapy Association, the Orthopedic Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, and Gordon Good Law Office. Participants from Western included those in fields as diverse as Physical Therapy, Physiatry, Psychiatry, Endocrinology, Microbiology, Dental Science, Epidemiology, Imaging Physics, and Biomechanics among others. Experts from other institutions were present, representing McMaster University, McGill University, University of Maryland, the University of British Columbia, Northwestern University, the University of Western Sydney and the University of North Carolina. Consumer groups included the Canadian Physical Therapy Association, the Ontario Chiropractic Association, the Canadian Pain Coalition, the Canadian Medical Association, and the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association.
Participants left the 2-day event with a sense of excitement over what true interdisciplinary, inter-institutional and international collaboration could accomplish and how we may someday identify the true nature of pain, disability and recovery after traumas such as whiplash, low back injuries, sports injuries or post-surgical pain. A paper will be published that outlines the results of the event and serves as a white paper for those looking for rigorously-developed research priorities in the field.