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Need help finding Doctor who specializes in paraplegic pain issue.

By May 19, 2010 - 8:16pm
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Hi I am writing to you to beg for some help. I have met someone at the college I am attending who was there as a motivational speaker. He is in a wheelchair due to a gunshot wound 19 years ago, he is now 45 years old. He and I really connected on a spiritual level and he helped me through a terrible time in my life. I have since come to realize that he is on the verge of taking his own life due to these pains that he gets, sometimes in excess of 15 hours a day, screaming, yelling, crying, begging god to make it stop. I am terrified that he will commit suicide and therefore I have been trying to find a specialist that would maybe listen to him and understand what he is experiencing. So far from what I can tell his doctors simply want to prescribe pain meds that do little if anything at all for him. Please help me to find someone who can possibly direct me in the right direction towards finding a specialist. Insurance is not an issue fortunately he has very good insurance its just finding someone to go to. He lives in Wilmington NC and though it would be nice to find a local doctor or one in state at least, travel is not a problem. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my message.

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EmpowHER Guest

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June 19, 2014 - 10:32pm

I am so glad I found this post...my dad has been a paraplegic since 1982 (multiple gunshot injury). He's a real-life superhero...an inspiration to everyone...lives in constant pain, yet never complains. The last few years have really taken a toll on him. His pain meds are essentially not effective anymore. Never seems as though his doctor is proactive in helping him find ways to manage his pain...very frustrating, to say the least. He purposely doesn't go to the doctor when he's in gut-wrenching pain because he knows nothing will be done...no one should live that way. When he makes comments like, "I just wonder how much pain one person is supposed to endure," it's heartbreaking...because I know for him to actually verbalize being in pain, it's beyond comprehension. He's to the point where he doesn't know what else to say/ask the doctors to help him with his pain. I can't watch him go through this...I want to be his advocate, but don't know where to turn. He lives in Bryant, AR. Any advice on where I need to start to get him some help? Thanks so much.

October 10, 2012 - 8:40pm
EmpowHER Guest

I am 2 years late for this entry - but am posting for anyone else out there who is looking for help for paras or quads. I am an student of patient advocacy and have been working with a friend of mine who has MS and is a cancer survivor. We trusted that the neuro, the GP, and the visiting physical therapist would know enough to send us in the direction of a specialist if we ever needed one, but I've learned that this often isn't the case.
In fact - we'd been to a physiatrist (even spell check doesn't acknowledge that word), who did nothing but sign the paperwork I needed to get my friend her low air loss mattress. Beyond that, she wasn't interested in this crooked person in her ill-fitting wheelchair.
In searching for approval for a new wheelchair, and because our old physiatrist is no longer practicing - we were referred to a new one. This guy took one look at my friend and showed me what a pro-active physiatrist looks like.

1) Trust your instincts. If your situation doesn't feel right, it likely isn't.
2) A physiatrist is who you need.
3) Not all physiatrists are created equal.
4) Some physiatrists make para and quad care their specialty.

July 5, 2012 - 4:35pm
EmpowHER Guest

I really appreciate your post. It gives an outstanding idea that is very helpful for all the people on the web. Thanks for sharing this information and I'll love to read your next post too.

September 24, 2011 - 8:19am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Karen - I've spent several years working with patients who have paraplegia and quadriplegia. Cary is right in saying your friend needs to work with specialists who understand how best to treat his entire situation. The type of specialist who can best help him is a Physiatrist - you can learn more about these doctors here: http://www.aapmr.org/condtreat/what.htm

You can find a North Carolina specialist here: http://www.e-aapmr.org/imis/imisonline/findphys/result.cfm?State=NC

You can also look for an outpatient program provided by a hospital or center that specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation. There are many outstanding national programs, but for his convenience you may want to first determine if such programs are available in North Carolina.

Hope this helps you and your friend, Pat

May 20, 2010 - 7:05pm

Hi Karen

I'm glad you found our site. Congrats on the new friend although I'm sorry to hear he is in so much pain.

My first thought is that you should find a large teaching hospital near you, one that is connected with a medical university, and talk to their pain management department. These types of facilities usually get referrals from all over the regional area, so they see more cases and more unusual cases, making them more familiar with treating someone who isn't just a typical everyday patient with common issues.

For instance, in my area I could go to Loyola or the University of Chicago or University of Illinois at Chicago. They have large teaching departments for each type of medicine. If you don't have good luck with the pain management department you could try neurology or neurosurgery, but I think pain management is going to give the most help. They usually have ideas that involve medications, interventions such as injections, and holistic things like massage, acupuncture, therapy, meditation, and low tech things as well. A good pain therapy clinic will combine all of these types of things together to help a person get the best outcome possible for their type of pain.

We also have a section on pain management that may give you some ideas: https://www.empowher.com/media/reference/pain-management-center

I hope this helps you and your friend. Please let us know how you do.

May 20, 2010 - 7:03am
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