There is nothing noble about living with pain, says neurosurgeon Dr Vijay Sheel Kumar. All it does is debilitate your positive energies, making you unfit to function or live to your full potential. Learn pain management
PIONEER OF PAIN MANAGEMENT
The most common symptom in the world is pain, yet nobody specializes in it,'' said physician Dr C. Norman Shealy, who founded the Shealy Institute in Springfield, USA, in 1982. He has been searching for ways to deal with chronic pain since his early days as a neurosurgeon. He developed the dorsal column stimulator using electrical stimulation to help ease back pain. But he had to turn away 94 per cent of the candidates for this procedure because they were severely depressed. Wanting to treat them, he started searching for ways to do it.
Dr Shealy's philosophy was to examine everything that was reasonable, rational and safe. ''I was aware that there were a lot of alternatives out there that I did not understand,'' he said. He planned a meeting that brought together alternative healers to discuss how they treated pain. ''It was obvious that these people had something to offer,'' he admits, ''and the question was always 'is it a placebo?''
Dr Shealy had also begun to recognize the value of music for healing. Music heals because it relaxes and so helps to de- stress. The right kind of music brings up 'unfinished business' from the past, such as anger, guilt, anxiety or depression that are the root causes of most illnesses.
Dr Shealy soon recognized stress as an important factor in illness. Stress is a multi-factored problem, which is chemical, physical, electro-magnetic and emotional. ''It is the interaction of those four main fields of stress that are the cause of all illness, not just some,'' he says.
He then learnt about autogenic training and biofeedback as alternative forms of treating pain. Biofeedback is the feeding back to a person, visually or aurally, changes taking place in the body. Dr Shealy found biofeedback successful in treating a man paralyzed from the chest down. Until then he had come across nothing to control paraplegic pain. Amazed by this success he began looking at self-regulation, and read everything from yoga to self-hypnosis. (Incidentally, his greatest source of inspiration and understanding has come from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras).
Autogenic training is a self-hypnosis program and a powerful non-biofeedback tool. H. Shultz, psychologist and discoverer of autogenic training, reported that 80 per cent of people with various psychosomatic or stress-related illnesses got well doing the training. Dr Shealy went on to earn his doctorate in psychology and wrote a manual for therapists on how to use biofeedback. He estimates that 85 per cent of people improve remarkably within two weeks without any drugs, using a combination of biofeedback and autogenic training.
,br> Dr Shealy believes that the 15 per cent who do not stay healthy are those who stop doing what they've learned. ''The people who don't succeed in this kind of program are those who don't have the inner reserves to do it,'' he says.
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