During my 29 years working as a physiotherapist for the adult pain team at Heliomare Rehabilitation Centre in Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands, I have noticed the need for and the healing power of adequate information for people with persistentidiopathic pain.
For more info see: Heliomare
Pain neuroscience education nowadays is taught as an intervention on its own and it is so important in altering pain. When, in the beginning of 2017, I was asked by our rehabilitation doctor Ruud Margry (who worked in both the adult and the children’s pain team) to help the children in Heliomare with persistent pain problems, I searched the internet for accessible and correct child-friendly informationabout their problems. I was not successful as the current neuroscience pain education is generally aimed at adults with pain. I only found a booklet for children focused on pain management strategies rather than explaining the biology and neuroscience of pain. Perhaps the problem is that for a long time, healthcare professionals underestimated the ability of patients (both adults and children) to understand the neurophysiology of pain. I felt very frustrated by this. We educated the parents of the children suffering from pain, by showing them our presentation which we used for the adults with pain. For the children themselves, we used some sections of the adult presentation but it was far from ideal and was in fact not suitable for children.
I asked a former pediatrician for help who had made a career switch in writing education books for children (fear of going to the dentist etc.) for assistance in producing the book. However, after three months, he cancelled it leaving me in the lurch.
At the school playground and at the football club, I talked to many parents about the need for the right educationabout pain for children. The parents supported the need for appropriate information, as they all knew a child suffering from persistent pain in their immediate vicinity. At that point, I was brought in contact with Ramona who is a book illustrator, has her own art school, has worked for 19 years in a day care centre and is (like me) a mother of three children.
So I met Ramona on a ‘blind date’ in the autumn of 2017. She instantly understood the importance of the making of this book. A fifteen-month process of writing followed. She created beautiful illustrations of my less than perfect schematic drawings of the spinal cord and protective parts of the brain and the immune system. Together we worked on the text and got help from local primary and secondary schoolteachers. Then we introduced our initial version to a test panel of children before the first edition of our book arrived in April 2019.
We were not able to cope with the huge demand for our book and within six weeks the 500 books where sold out! Right now we are ready for the fourth edition. Every week we receive great recommendations about how useful the book is, which has now been translated into English.