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Sierra Tucson staff apply neuroscience in patients' trauma recovery

Past research has collected input from people living with chronic pain, screening positive for mental health conditions
Posted at 6:59 AM, Mar 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-09 10:01:10-05

The health advocacy group Mental Health America collected four years of data from more than 161,000 people living with arthritis and other chronic pain.
They found that nearly 80% of people who shared their experiences screened positive or moderate/severe for a mental health condition.

This report adds to the research showing a significant relationship between chronic pain and mental health.

That's why the medical and leadership team at Sierra Tucson say they're investing even more in treatments that help patients recover from addiction and mental stress.

As a chiropractor Sierra Tucson CEO Derek Price consulted patients grinding through traumatic injuries. For years though, he felt ill prepared to spot the signs that a patient needed emotional support and therapy.

"But I'm seeing that mental health," Price said. "We've known him about it. And in total transparency when I was on the musculoskeletal side of the world for the last 20 years, I very much knew everything about that side and very little about this side."

Stepping into this role, Price says he wants to leverage his best assets: a team made up of counselors and neuroscientists working together to get to the roots of a patient's trauma.

"Really adopting that philosophy of if we're moving this direction and it's not working that well that we have the flexibility and plasticity to move in a different direction," Price said. "And ultimately, we're striving for the same goal."

Bill Reynolds leads the center's military veteran trauma recovery program. In his years working there, he's seen the difference in applying newer training methods.
Those methods include neurological treatments like magnetic stimulation. For Reynolds, this goes hand-in-hand with exercise and emotional therapy.

"We do outcome measures," Reynolds said. "So when somebody comes in when they first get to residential, we do an assessment and we look at mood, we look at anxiety, we look at chronic pain, sleep, trauma symptoms, so they get sort of a baseline here, like a baseline score so to speak."

Sierra Tucson says it's working with a University of Arizona psychology professor to study the effectiveness of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in treating depression.

The Center says so far they find patients achieve remission after 10 TMS sessions.