Partnering to Fight Pain

One Boy's Ordeal Led to Help for Other Southern California Children Who Suffer From Chronic Pain

A simple heel fracture from running on a California beach led to excruciating pain for 14-year-old Jasper Neale. The fracture took a long time to heal. Worse, the pain grew and radiated throughout his body. “I wasn’t able to wear clothes. I couldn’t shower. I couldn’t walk. If a wind blew on me, I would be screaming,” he says.

Eventually, Jasper was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)—a chronic condition that is believed to be caused by damage to the
nervous system—at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. And although he underwent weeks of outpatient therapy, the pain only got worse. Jasper’s physical therapist showed him and his parents an online video she’d found. It told the story of a girl who had suffered similar symptoms, but managed to get them under control through an intensive course of therapy at another children’s hospital.

“My husband and I decided we must find a program like this for Jasper,” says his mother, Lori Neale. After some research, they selected the inpatient Chronic Pain Management Program at Children’s Specialized Hospital (CSH) in New Brunswick.

Less than three weeks later, Jasper and his father were on a flight to New Jersey and CSH. That decision would change his life—and, ultimately, make life better for other San Diego, Southern California and southwestern U.S. children living in pain.

Mastering the pain

At CSH, the innovative Chronic Pain Management Program treats children with this condition through intensive physical, occupational and psychological therapy. Patients learn coping techniques to desensitize themselves to pain and mitigate it—without the use of opioids or other medications. “One of the goals of the program is to improve the pain, but the main goal is to improve function and get our patients back to their lives,” explains Katherine Bentley, MD, Director of the Chronic Pain Management Program.

After seven weeks, Jasper graduated from the program and was able to return to his California home, and to his life as a teenager. But Jasper’s recovery was not the only positive outcome of his experience. Aware of the need for a multidisciplinary approach to pain management for area patients, Rady Children’s Hospital and CSH created a partnership. In April, the all-new Children’s Specialized Hospital Chronic Pain Management Program at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego opened for business.

“This joint endeavor provides us the great opportunity to treat the needs of patients and families in the Southern California region,” says Warren E. Moore, FACHE, President and CEO at CSH, “and for that I could not be more grateful.” Jasper would agree. “Now,” he says, “I can do anything I want to do.”

For more information about Children’s Specialized Hospital, call 888.244.5373.