Friday, April 23, 2010

The Portfolio, Part 1

A good while back -- several months, at least -- I began writing an entry that was based on the contents of my teaching portfolio. That post is still hanging about in draft form, and I will complete it, but there's something about the material that triggers major anxiety, that makes me replace the clunky notebook on the shelf.

It's as if I am reading the evidence of someone else's life. The memories stimulated by this odd group of documents are, for the most part, happy ones (with the exception of the remembered angst behind every asininely detailed "daily lesson plan"). Some of the entries are there solely to impress the committee evaluating educators by this "instrument." Some of the entries are there solely to irritate that same judgmental group -- like my inclusion of project guidelines for Throw-Away-the-Book Week.

There surely are things hinted at between the white vinyl covers that no sane person would miss. For example, I included the lengthy negative evaluation I received from an administrator who inspected one of my more advanced French classes. She gave me the lowest possible marks for stuff like clarity of instruction, review of home work assignments, and the flow of class exercises -- because all were conducted "in a foreign language," by far, the strangest criticism I ever received.

She was well-known for her negativity. When she came up to me at the close of class, she asked me why some assignment was not written on the board. I pointed out a boxed bit of writing in an upper corner and told her that that was the assignment (again, written in French), to which she responded with a doleful "I guess I have to take your word for it." I should have yelled: "Shazaam! You caught me pulling that old fake assignment trick. Foiled again!"

Okay, so as I tell you about The Portfolio, some of the old rigor returns. I am who I was; I remember me.

A big part of what The Bosses wanted to see involved student evaluations and evidence of "contact" with both student and parents/guardians. This aspect of teaching was really pretty new to me, as my experience until then was with college students. The onus of contact was more on the student in that world, though I did blur the directional road map when it seemed the right thing to do -- when someone was sick, depressed, or radically different from their norm. [This inclination was born with my very first batch of essays to grade. Near the top of the pile was an essay in the form of a suicide note. That surely cemented several good habits in me -- from attempting to return papers as fast as possible to cultivating a positive relationship with Campus Police. Incredibly, this happened once more in my career. How sad to think that I was their only available confidente.]

When I took a job at the high school level, I was clueless about the complexity of student/parent contact work. On paper, scheduling a 30-minute window for phone calls home and disciplinary referrals looked sufficient. In actuality, when I was doing my job well, this aspect of the work easily ate up about 2 hours a day.

Look here. On the left, carefully encased in plastic, a letter from Le Président de la République française thanking me for my part in developing "Francophonie dans le monde." On the right, a Counseling Referral Form for Jesse ****** to Counselor Fortson:

This referral results from observation of the following behaviors (followed by these checked items): Failure to complete work; Unable to pay attention; Disrupts class; Dazed or "spaced"; Inappropriate laughter; Short attention span; Hyperactive (restless, agitated); Overly talkative; Confused/Disoriented; Does not respond to questions; Sleepy/nods off in class; Isolated.

Action already taken by the classroom teacher making this referral:
Conferred with child on numerous occasions; Talked with parents on 9/7 and during visit to school the next week; According to Mother, Jesse was to have been tested for LD

Teacher Comments:
55 average. Often wanders around room. Gaining weight. Often blocks doorway during change of classes and refuses to move. Does virtually no work. I believe he was inadvertently passed in French 1 due to failure to issue deficiencies. He does not have requisite background to succeed in French 2. Mom and I have tried to work with him without success. Thank you.

As you probably can guess, nothing ever happened. Jesse was never tested for Learning Disabilities, never turned in a single assignment, continued to obstruct the classroom doorway, exacting a toll like some hulking Bridge Troll. His Mother and I chatted weekly, and she said the same thing at the end of every conversation, in that weird dissociative cheerful chirp: "Madame, what are we going to do about our Jesse?" I was feeling less and less like claiming the boy as he lost expensive textbooks, ruined class dynamics, and dragged his ass around my room, eating up the minutes of my 20-minute lunch break. "He stays in your room, Madame, because he likes you."

Madame was unable to find a single teacher who was passing Jesse but found great friends of Mother at every turn. She had so worked the teachers that some were unable to fail him for fear of Mother perhaps having another bad spell of high blood pressure. Any student who consistently receives a D is a student who really is failing but who has somehow struck a bargain, made a deal, or so terrified the prof by the prospect of repeating the course that they could pass it in absentia. By mid-semester, Jesse no longer had any textbooks to take home, or even put in his locker, as we each kept copies in class for him to not use. I made five photocopies of each cream, pink, and mint green triplicated version of his Deficiency Reports. He had his own section in my Telephone Log Book, and I even photocopied that, turning it in every Monday to the designated Vice-Principal and the aforementioned lazy ass Counselor Fortson.

If a student did not receive two successive Deficiency Reports, at least 6 weeks apart, that student could not be failed. Parents are supposed to sign them, return them, and work whatever plan is then imposed for turning the situation around.

Jesse had the brilliant idea of refusing to receive his Deficiency Reports. He would take it in hand, then drop it on the floor and abuse it with his large, floppy sneakers.

So I began taking pictures of him doing so, then retrieving my torn and smeared reports, encasing them in a sandwich baggy and mailing it to his Mom via registered mail. (You've no idea how much money a teacher ends up spending, nor the extents to which we will go to make sure students have what they need in terms of supplies.)

There was nothing wrong with Jesse beyond incredible obstinance. He was making his way through life by insinuating his bulk into doorways, blocking and tripping his Fellow Travelers, and being amused by it. I was several months into my new teaching venture before anyone explained the unusually high number of ill-prepared (read: couldn't read, write, or speak a word of French) advance students with which I was dealing. All I knew of the teacher I had replaced was that she had become ill. Apparently, she was terrified of the students, and fell prey to continual panic attacks at the mere hint of confrontation. The way it was eventually told to me, she failed to teach more than they failed to learn. Those who had her for their first year of foreign language were automatically advanced to the second year, where I was put in the position of correcting the "mistake." Those kids who fessed up to their inadequacies and put in time each week after school toward remediation, stayed, did their best, and passed, often with good marks. Those who decided that another year of playing the brute might pay off? They failed and were obnoxious about the whole affair. I tried to offer everyone who looked like they could use it an opportunity to start another foreign language (they could not repeat a course they had not failed) or find some different elective.

I failed Jesse. I had to work damned hard to do so, but I did it. Oh, the warm fuzzy feeling of that accomplishment by Madame! Oh, the looks of angry sadness from Jesse's Mom.

The Portfolio Committee made no commentary on the irony of my fierce achievements "to advance la francophonie in the world" versus my equally expansive failures with one Jesse ******.

Tucked in the back pocket of the portfolio is a "parent contact sheet."

URGENT: Spoke with Willie Edwards, father of Tracey Edwards. I called to inform of absence on 11-4 and continued failing grade. Tracey has also continued to interfere in communication between myself and parent/grandmother. Father said she had not returned home since morning of 11-3 and believes she has "run off with that boy" whom he describes as 18-19 with a criminal record. He asked that we keep an eye out for Tracey and that Mr. R, in particular, be notified. Requested contact by Mr. R. Mr. Edwards pager # is ***-***-****. He is very distraught.

Phone for Marco High disconnected. Called to report failure to serve detention, disruptive conduct, academic failure.

Spoke with mother of Jerry Hill. We will meet next Thursday. She was unaware of any progress reports from any teachers. Discussed failing grade, behavior. She said his father would address excessive talking and rude behavior with him. She was angry at not being called sooner.

Spoke with mother of C. Njoroge. He is currently failing French 2 -- very unexpected as he is generally excellent student. She says they are concerned at home. She said he is increasingly detached and perhaps is depressed. Mother notes a change since arrival in U.S. from Kenya last year. Fears negative peer pressure. Suggested tutorials. Will call father, per mother's request, in 2 weeks if no improvement noted. Mother stated very clearly that she wanted a referral to a counselor because she feels they are unable to communicate effectively with Chris.

Left message at ***-***-**** for Mrs. R, mother pf Lynneice R. I believe Lynneice picked up the phone initially, asked who it was, then hung up. When I called back, answering machine was on. Calling to schedule conference due to failure, cutting, poor class participation.

Received three phone calls to my home in one evening from Mr. S., father of students Kimberli and Kelli in advanced French 2. He has scheduled them for private music lessons and they both have several detentions to serve. They refuse to serve them before school and now are using the music lessons as an excuse to completely evade them. Mr. S was abusive and cursed at me repeatedly. I referred him to Mr. R and asked him to not contact me at home. Both girls were caught cheating on a quiz, both are missing whole chapters of assignments. Progress reports were sent home but Mr. S denies receiving them.

Scheduled meeting with grade-level counselor for Joyce R. and her mother. Joyce refused to take seat during class, paced the entire period, told me repeatedly, "I am going to take you out." She is exhibiting major mood swings, being friendly and cooperative one day, then argumentative and abusive the next. Mother said that I am a racist, that I did not understand the expression "I am going to take you out."

Balancing all of that out are five pages of back-and-forth via email with the parents of one Albert d'H. I will never forget Albert d'H. He transfered as a ninth-grader from an exclusive private school (read: all white) to our "diverse urban high school." He had an extensive background in French and I had already been approached by his parents the week prior to school even starting because they were concerned he would be "bored." Apparently, he had never experienced instruction that was based in the target language, because when I interviewed him as part of the "warm up" to the course on Day 1, he burst into tears and ran into the hall. He was convinced that he was going to fail. I admit to having had little patience at being in the hall on the first day of class, being asked to promise someone that I "would not" fail him. His parents were so alarmed that they had him staying after school for tutorials 3-4 times a week. His father insisted on studying with him. The second week of school, his mother decided it was time for me to start preparing him for Junior Year Abroad. In fact, she was rapidly filling up every bit of free time the child might have between the ninth grade and his admission to law school.

She writes: "Älbert refuses to study with me so I have pretty much given up trying to follow what is going on in your class... I am writing now specifically to ask you if you know of any summer programs in France that would be suitable for Albert. I feel that full immmersion in French with supplementary grammar lessons would give him that boost he needs to start making real progress in learning the language. I would like to see him stay for at least six weeks or possibly eight. He's very stubborn, so I would like to send him to a really rigorous program where they would force him to work very hard. He needs it. I hope to hear from you soom and I appreciate all you have done in what must seem at times an impossible task."

It was not uncommon for me to be found mumbling, "poor Albert d'H, poor Albert d'H!"

As I sit here now, smiling at this collection of letters, forms, grades, deficiencies, and referrals, I can see all the faces, remember the laughter, and smile at the tears.

While I was out sick the last semester I taught there, I had the television tuned to a local channel. Spring had sprung and I was restless, anxious to get back to work. (I had broken a hip. Rather, a student had broken my hip by kicking and shoving a door I was trying to close -- he was being chased by cops in the hallway and sought refuge in my homeroom.)

The windows in our bedroom were open, I could hear birds and kids outside. Suddenly, the local news "sky cam" broke into the programming to share the feed of a high speed car chase down one of the highways... There were at least four cop cars wailing and weaving behind an old brown-and-white sedan with mismatched wheels.

I started to laugh.

I knew that car, I knew that silhouette!

That was one of my students!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


You know Fresca best here as The Wordlemeister -- her name runs through those famous Wordle Challenges of Yesteryear with the erosive persistence of water.

And so you just knew she had to be a writer!

Better than that, really. An ut pictura poesis practitioner.

Anyway, I enjoy her blog a great deal, especially lately, as I'm just plain parched.

Think: artesian well.

The water may not be different, but it comes to the earth's surface a bit differently. Groundwater in aquifers between layers of poorly permeable rock, such as clay or shale, may be confined under pressure. If such a confined aquifer is tapped by a well, water will rise above the top of the aquifer and may even flow from the well onto the land surface. Water confined in this way is said to be under artesian pressure, and the aquifer is called an artesian aquifer. The word artesian comes from the town of Artois in France, the old Roman city of Artesium, where the best known flowing artesian wells were drilled in the Middle Ages. The level to which water will rise in tightly cased wells in artesian aquifers is called the potentiometric surface.

Deep wells drilled into rock to intersect the water table and reaching far below it are often called artesian wells in ordinary conversation, but this is not necessarily a correct use of the term. Such deep wells may be just like ordinary, shallower wells; great depth alone does not automatically make them artesian wells. The word artesian, properly used, refers to situations where the water is confined under pressure below layers of relatively impermeable rock.

Yes, Fresca is deep, a cool, verre d'eau.

Excuse me, this computer -- a new, or at least, different one -- is blinking and hooting at me. Sputtering, even.

Part of me keeps thinking "This isn't very wise, Retired Educator! Better you should close the plush velvet curtains of The Computer Turret, though they are impervious to not much, so as to better shield this shy, blinking, hooting instrument from the needling horizontal rain with which the Lord has blessed us, than to continue to risk disc failure by pecking away on damp keys and dipping the world's longest extension cord into the stray puddles gracing the uneven slate flagstone."

Yes, we DO have a turret!

Only the one, though.

It was a medieval design flaw, very common, but normally disguised as a soot-spewing chimney by the gaggle of ensuing sub-contractors unleashed by the inevitable Industrial Revolutions. The original Manor Residents had Castle Pretensions. Anyway, Captain Haddock's first mother-in-law, whose living conditions he seems to have delighted in complicating, was housed up here back in the 50s. After her departure, highly fêted, it kind of became a design nightmare and went through incarnations that might shock even Niecy Nash. [I confess that I sometimes wander around Marlinspike Hall with a blindfold on, stopping suddenly and yelling: "Take your blindfold off and OPEN YOUR EYES!"

Yes, I did recently break a leg. Your point?

The only way in or out, up or down, the pesky turret is via a thick rope ladder, dyed caution yellow, that extends down (but mostly sideways) out to the Manor Stables -- a remarkable outbuilding that is an alarming replica, as we pointed out in our last post, of the Knoppenburg Manor Stables. The proper term today is "agricultural building." You won't catch me calling it a barn if there are any prying ears about. Of course, the last outsider who dropped by was The Technician Overlord of Our Telecommunications Bundle, which he so wisely decided was best centered in the Hobby Room at the top of the Turret Tower. We had concocted a cover story about the rope bridge ("It's more a bridge than a ladder," Fred just said), which consists of the baldfaced lie that we are a new off season venue for those Cirque du Soleil performers who are fresh out of rehab. So the hefty diameter of that hemp monster, see, is easily explained away as necessary gear for these poor, troubled acrobats.

I'm usually not subject to such heights of embarrassment (heights, and, lately, riches) but I just don't want anyone to think that I have to zig zag my way from one Manor Wing to another, make it to the Grand Ballroom, out the entrance, patterned after Brunelleschi's bronze baptistery doors, over the drawbridge (Provided it is down! Men!), across the moat, down the lane, over the hedge, into the damned agricultural outbuilding, up the custom wheelchair ramp into the hayloft, and then, lickety-split, go hand-over-fist on the rope bridge for a good half mile... all just to get my email.

Competition for the Baptistry Doors in Florence - Brunelleschi and Ghiberti (1401) from Beth Harris on Vimeo.

My heart warms every day as I pass that portal -- the story of the baptistry door competition is such an engaging one. I wonder if I can get my Vasari volumes back from TW?

Anyway, we stashed a superlight refurbished, factory-conditioned sport wheelchair up there, so I have the capability of turning in circles really, really fast 'round the damp, crooked, crowded outer edges of the Turret Hobby Room. I don't yell out "Take your blindfold off and OPEN YOUR EYES!" up there. That would be silly.

I yell passages from Poe. Yes, often "quoth the raven, 'Nevermore.'"

A friend of Fred's, one of the Angry Lesbian Existentialist Feminists he hangs with on Wednesday evenings, told him "most of [Retired Educator's] charm is in her brilliant self-referentiality." I think she meant my succulent auto-referentialiciousness.

Fresca tends not to make a mess of things. She translates thought into appropriate and good art, and usually doesn't muck it up with words that only mean she's talking about herself.


Her blog (one of them) is called l'astronave. Here is a tease from a piece she posted today, Movies & Poetry: A Film from the Sixties, which I like a lot.

[Oh, if you cannot have enough William Shatner/Cap'n Kirk? L'astronave is the place for you!]

This is one of the funniest descriptions of writing I've come across.
Here's Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, on the unfilmability of poets--from her Nobel lecture, no less:
"It's not accidental that film biographies of great scientists and artists are produced in droves.
... Of course [they are] all quite naive and [don't] explain the strange mental state popularly known as inspiration, but at least there's something to look at and listen to.

But poets are the worst. Their work is hopelessly unphotogenic.

Someone sits at a table or lies on a sofa while staring motionless at a wall or ceiling. Once in a while this person writes down seven lines only to cross out one of them fifteen minutes later, and then another hour passes, during which nothing happens ...

Who could stand to watch this kind of thing?"

There may be few films about writing poetry, but poets do write poems about films. Including Szymborska.

Well, my ankles are swollen and I don't relish the climb back to The Manor proper.

I can hear La Bonne et Belle Bianca -- it floats on the air... ah, je ris de me voir... -- I don't doubt the rich intertextuality of my dreams tonight.

Come Back To Us, Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard

Our conversation, verbatim, as we turned into the driveway, coming home from grocery shopping.

me: (pointing at the bird feeder) Look at the Blue Jay, isn't he pretty?
him: Check out that Cardinal...
me: Where?
him: There.
me: Where?

(studied pause)

him: What would you call a Cardinal, if you had one?
me: Carl*.
him: Nooooo... Richelieu!
me: Oh. Oh.

The last time that I saw her
She was standing in the rain
With her overcoat under her arm
Leaning on a horsehead cane
She said "Carl, take all the money"
She called everybody Carl*
"My spirit's broke"
"My mind's a joke,"
"And getting up's real hard"

Don't you know her
When you see her?
She grew up
In your back yard
Come back to us
Barbara Lewis
Hare Krishna

Selling bibles at the airports
Buying quayludes on the phone
Hey, you talk about
A paper route
She's a shut in without a home
God save her, please
She's nailed her knees
To some drugstore parking lot
Hey, Mr. Brown
Turn the volume down
I believe this evening's shot

Repeat Chorus

Can't you picture her next Thursday?
Can you picture her at all?
In the Hotel Boulderado
At the dark end of the hall
I gotta shake myself and wonder
Why she even bothers me
For if heartaches were commercials
We'd all be on T.V.

Repeat Chorus

--John Prine

What's your such-and-such?

I've run into this exact phrasing twice today:

Such-and-such is both a privilege and a burden.

What's your such-and-such?
(In my encounters, the first was about the onus of simply knowing a certain person; The second was about the weight of keeping secrets.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

April: CRPS/RSD Clinical Trials

Of interest:

Elsevier has launched a service called Patient Research BETA that may prove very useful to patients researching their own conditions or the treatments/diagnoses of loved ones. Access to the many wonderful journals and medical information services out there requires beaucoup bucks; This is a response to that situation. $4.95 is a low price to pay for research articles -- at least, it is the lowest I've ever seen.

From Elsevier: The [Patient Research] pilot will help the individual journals assess the level of demand for medical information from the public and provide a public service to those in medical need. The journals testing this approach cover different medical fields and represent both publisher and society journals. These journals are testing this approach because they have content that is relevant to common medical conditions and are relatively straightforward to understand.

This pilot approach allows individual journals to test, learn and adapt their approaches accordingly, based on facts and ensures that the effects of new approaches to distribution of our content are meeting a real need within the communities we serve.

After pledging to post a monthly update on clinical trials for CRPS/RSD, I sure have fallen short. My apologies. Sadly, there has not been a huge turnover in what is available since my last offering in September.

Pay close attention to study requirements -- sometimes involvement of certain limbs is specified, sometimes a distinction between CRPS Type 1 or 2, sometimes length of illness. Some studies require procedures, some offer treatments (blindly, since for research), some require that you not have experienced any prior treatment.

I have no information regarding remuneration.

Boy, that'd be the day, huh? Get CRPS and make millions participating in clinical trials... I'll put that on my list, right after making a living as a juror.

1 Autonomic Dysfunction and Spinal Cord Stimulation in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

NOTE: Vanderbilt Univ. last verified this study in OCTOBER 2008. Since this is listed as a 24 month study, please check its status before getting too excited at the prospect of possibly receiving a SCS!

PURPOSE: To demonstrate that spinal cord stimulator [SCS] has an effect on sympathetic function (the one that give us the fight and flight response). Therefore, if the spinal cord stimulator has an effect on sympathetic function, the responses from CRPS patients to different stimuli will differ significantly pre and post SCS implant. If CRPS patients exhibit autonomic dysfunction, CRPS patients could be stratified according to their sympathetic function pre-implant. It is expected that patients with a moderate/mild form of autonomic dysfunction will have better outcomes with the SCS.

Currently the mechanisms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) are poorly understood and stratification of either diagnosis or therapy is very weak. . There is a great need to develop and validate more objective methods to characterize and stratify CRPS that better diagnostic and therapeutic approaches are available. Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) has been used as the last resource to alleviate pain and re-establish function in CRPS patients. However, there is a disagreement over how it works. An underlying concept is that it works by modulating autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity. Therefore, ANS parameters could be useful to stratify patients. Our preliminary studies indicated that SCS has also an effect on blood pressure regulation and improves the CRPS patients' response to Valsalva maneuver -a test of autonomic function. The Autonomic Nervous System function in adult CRPS patients has not yet been studied. The only existing study of CRPS and autonomic function showed that 15% of the patients suffer from syncope and increased heart rate during upright position similar to same aged patients with postural tachycardia syndrome - a syndrome of autonomic dysfunction. It is unclear if autonomic dysfunction is present in CRPS patients because ANS activity is altered by chronic pain or whether or not ANS activity contributes to CRPS. Therefore, we proposed to study the autonomic function in CRPS patients by standardized autonomic function and to evaluate the effect of the SCS on autonomic function in CRPS patients before and after spinal cord stimulator implant. This is a 24 months study.

Inclusion Criteria:
CRPS patients meeting the inclusion criteria according to the International Association for the Study of Pain Task Force will be included in the study.
Age: 18 to 65.
Disease duration of at least 6 months.
History of unsuccessful long lasting therapies: physical therapy, transcutaneous electrical stimulation and medication.

Exclusion Criteria:
Presence of current or past pulmonary, hepatic, renal disease, arthritis, hematopoietic, and neurological diseases not related to CRPS.
Anticoagulant therapy, cardiac pacemaker used.
Pregnancy test for females is positive.

[I suggest, for background reading, this article:
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: Manifestations and the Role of Neurostimulation in Its Management
Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, Volume 31, Issue 4, Pages S20-S24
M. Stanton-Hicks]

2 Effect of Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol on the Prevention of Chronic Pain in Patients With Acute CRPS (ETIC-Study)

Sponsored by Ludwig-Maximilians - University of Munich

Again, this is listed as an open study, but then there's this:
Study Start Date -- September 2006
Estimated Study Completion Date -- December 2008

Recent animal data suggest that the endocannabinoid system is a promising target in the prevention of chronic pain. It has been shown that the endocannabinoid system modifies excitatory and inhibitory currents in structures involved in the development of chronic pain such as the amygdala.

CRPS is a neuropathic pain condition, which is known to become chronic in a significant percentage. The study compares the effect of low dose Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (90 days) and placebo in acute CRPS. All patients will receive a standard treatment consisting of drug therapy and physiotherapy.

Primary Outcome Measures:
Incidence of chronic pain at one year assessed with Visual Analogue Scale (VAS)

Secondary Outcome Measures:
Changes in somatosensory phenotype at one year assessed with Quantitative Sensory Testing (QST)
Motor function of the affected extremity at one year assessed with a biometric evaluation
Changes in Health Related Quality of Life at one year assessed with SF-36
Changes in plasma endocannabinoid levels at 30, 60, 90 days and at one year

These articles may be of adjunct interest:

Cichewicz DL, Welch SP, Smith FL. Enhancement of transdermal fentanyl and buprenorphine antinociception by transdermal delta9- tetrahydrocannabinol. Eur J Pharmacol. 2005 Nov 21;525(1-3):74-82.

Cichewicz DL, McCarthy EA. Antinociceptive synergy between delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol and opioids after oral administration. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2003 Mar;304(3):1010-5.

Editorial on cannabinoids and chronic pain

3 Safety and Efficacy Study of Ethosuximide for the Treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

Study is at McGill (Montréal). "Pain remains the most debilitating symptom for adult patients suffering from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Most CRPS patients gain little to no relief from current painkillers. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of ethosuximide in search of much-needed adjunctive therapy to relieve the pain and suffering associated with CRPS."

This is a single centre, parallel-group, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot clinical trial for adults suffering from complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

Twelve (12) subjects diagnosed with CRPS will be enrolled and randomized to receive orally, either ethosuximide or placebo. If the maximum trial medication dosage (1500mg) is reached, the subject will be in the study for a maximum of 10 weeks from screening (Clinic Visit 1) to the end of the drug cessation period. The minimum period a subject could complete the study would be 4 weeks presuming they were not previously on any disallowed drugs and only found the 500mg dose tolerable.

4 Not yet recruiting Graded Exposure (GEXP) in Vivo Versus Physiotherapy in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type I (CRPS-I)

Study by Maastricht University Medical Center. "Research on the treatment of CRPS-I, as described in the Dutch evidence based treatment guidelines (Richtlijn Complex Regional Pain Syndrome type I, 2006), mainly showed improvement at the level of pain and coping with pain. Only little improvement in functional restoration was found. Research in other pain populations such al neck- and back-pain patients has shown that pain related fear contributes to the development of functional disability. GEXP in vivo which aims on systematically reducing fear of movement, shows promising results in CRPS-I patients (de Jong et al., 2005)."

The objective of the proposed project is to compare the effectivity of GEXP in vivo with that of standardized physiotherapy in CRPS-I patients with pain related fear.

The study population will consist of chronic CRPS-I patients between 18 and 65, with pain related fear (PHODA-LE-score ≥ 35 and PHODA-UE-score ≥ 32).

The two interventions that will be compared are GEXP in vivo (de Jong et al., 2005) and standardized physiotherapy according to the protocol of Oerlemans, Oostendorp, de Boo en Goris (1999). The GEXP in vivo comprises 17 sessions of one hour, the physiotherapy treatment of 34 sessions of 30 minutes. Both treatments will be given over a period of 17 weeks.

Inclusion Criteria:
Diagnosis CRPS-I according to IASP criteria.
Pain related (PHODA-LE-score ≥ 35 and PHODA-UE-score ≥ 32)
Age between 18 and 65.
Rehabilitation treatment has been indicated.

Exclusion Criteria:
Insufficient fluency in Dutch.
Generalized pain syndrome.
Sympathectomy of the affected extremity.
Involvement in a claim regarding the disease.
Substance abuse.
Symptoms on both upper or both lower extremities.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00625976
Contact: Tim Gard, M.Sc. +31 43 3881594
Contact: Marielle Goossens, Dr. +31 43 3881477

Additional Reading/Viewing:
Health Skills -- Reduction of pain-related fear in complex regional pain syndrome
Bethesda Physiocare: Physical Therapy Management of CRPS
eHow: How to Treat Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: Video Series

5 Double Blind Placebo Controlled Study of Outpatient Intravenous Ketamine for the Treatment of CRPS

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a debilitating and extremely difficult to treat condition. There is a large body of evidence demonstrating the therapeutic value of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-receptor antagonists in CRPS. The NMDA antagonist ketamine has been shown to be effective in the treatment of CRPS, resulting in complete remission of the disease in some patients. The purpose of this study is to evaluate intravenous outpatient infusion of sub-anesthetic doses of ketamine for the treatment of CRPS. A thorough evaluation of this procedure, providing information into the degree of relief and which of the constellation of RSD symptoms are best alleviated by this procedure would result in the optimization of this therapy for the treatment of CRPS.

Inclusion Criteria:
Patients diagnosed with CRPS based on the modified IASP (International Association for the Study of Pain) research criteria (Harden RN and Bruehl SP
Diagnostic Criteria: The Statistical Derivation of the Four Criterion Factors.
In CRPS: Current Diagnosis and Therapy, Progress in Pain Research and Management, Vol 32: pp 45-58, 2005), whose condition is intractable for at least six months and have failed at least three of the following therapies:

Nerve blocks
Opioid analgesics
Non-opioid analgesics
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Anti-seizure medications
Muscle relaxants; or
Physical therapy.
The patients must be ketamine naïve and can be of either gender including all racial and minority groups. The patient's age must be between 18 and 65 years, inclusive.
The study subjects must report pain levels equal to or greater than 4 on a scale of 0-10 (0 = no pain and 10 = unbearable pain). The pain must be stable over time and not vary more that 1 pain level.
The patient must be on a stable dose of CRPS medications for 28 days prior to and throughout the duration of the study.
The patient must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
The patient will be instructed that he/she will not be allowed to drive home following the infusion. Therefore in order to be included in the study the subjects must arrange for transportation for the 10 day duration of the study.

Exclusion Criteria:
Patients less than 18 years of age will be excluded. In this initial study, patients over 65 years of age will be excluded due to possible unforeseen concomitant medical problem.
Patients that have previously undergone intravenous ketamine infusions will be excluded from the study.
Patients who are pregnant, are lactating, have known psychotic or psychiatric illness, are afflicted with glaucoma or have thyrotoxicosis will also be excluded.
Any patient that is unable to provide consent due to cognitive difficulties will not be used in this study.
Patients that can not provide the means to be transported home following daily infusions will be excluded from the study.
The investigators feel that issues concerning monetary gain and or loss due to the patient's medical condition may adversely affect the study, therefore, patients with active litigation, compensation or disability issues related to their CRPS will be excluded.
Patients with a history of substance abuse will be excluded.
Patients on certain blood pressure lowering medications such as calcium blockers, or beta blockers will be excluded from the study.
Patients with major medical problems including but not limited to; uncontrolled hypertension, hypotension, cardiac failure, renal failure or liver failure will not be used in this study.

Drexel University College of Medicine Department of Neurology
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, 19107
Contact: Robert J Schwartzman, MD/Neurology 215-762-7090

6 Pain Exposure Physical Therapy (PEPT) Versus CBO in Patients With Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type I (CRPS-1)

The current Dutch CBO guideline treatment of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type I (CRPS-1) is very disappointing with chronification, disability and subsequent high medical costs and personal suffering. A possible better treatment is intensive function-oriented physical therapy or Pain Exposure in Physical Therapy (PEPT). However, there are no adequate studies performed that demonstrate the efficacy of PEPT and therefore PEPT is lacking in the Dutch CBO CRPS-1 guidelines. Despite a lacking scientific argumentation, the PEPT approach or Macedonian therapy, is now being adopted on a large scale among physical therapists in The Netherlands. There are two level C retrospective cohort studies demonstrating a promising and clinical relevant beneficial effect on pain and function after PEPT. In response to the growing demand for scientific argumentation among doctors and physical therapists with respect to the efficacy of PEPT, we conducted a pilot study at the UMC St Radboud Nijmegen. The results of this pilot study were very promising and therefore, we decided to design a large RCT to investigate the treatment effects and costs in CRPS patients treated with PEPT compared to CRPS patients treated with usual therapy according to the Dutch CBO guidelines.

Inclusion Criteria:

Patients between 18 and 80 years of age with Complex Regional pain Syndrome (CRPS-1) of either upper or lower extremity according to Bruehl's/IASP criteria between 3 and 24 months after initial injury will be selected for the study.

Radboud University Medical Center Recruiting
Nijmegen, Netherlands, 6525 GA
Contact: Jan Paul M Frölke, MD; PhD +31 243613871

7 Study of Proteins Associated With Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The etiology of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is unknown but a patient typically presents with a triad of clinical findings: sensory abnormalities, perfusion abnormalities and alterations in motor function. Since some of these findings are seen in the other disease states, the diagnosis is often not clear. A response to a sympathetic ganglion block (stellate or lumbar) is also suggestive of the disorder. However, there is no definitive diagnostic test for CRPS. Experience has shown that early aggressive treatment improves the prognosis. Therefore, tests that facilitate the early diagnosis would have important clinical implications.

Advances in laboratory techniques allow analysis of clinical samples to identify protein or patterns of protein changes associated with a disease state. Patients suffering with CRPS who are currently seen in a pain clinic will be asked to participate in this study. The subjects will complete a brief symptom survey, be examined by a co-investigator to document sensory, temperature and trophic changes, and have a blood sample collected for protein and gene expression (RNA) analysis. Blood samples from age-matched controls will be collected from non-CRPS patients. Fifty patient samples collected from each group will be analyzed and used to teach the diagnostic software and an additional 20 samples (10 controls, 10 CRPS patients) will be used to validate diagnostic accuracy.

Normal healthy volunteers and patients of any age with complex regional pain syndrome who are in otherwise good general health may be eligible for this study.

Participants will have a medical history, physical examination and collection of a blood sample. They will fill out several questionnaires, providing information on their health, personality, mood, pain levels, and symptoms. Participation in the study requires one outpatient clinic visit.

Contact: Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office (800) 411-1222

National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892

8 Not yet recruiting The Effect of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (t-DCS) On the P300 Component of Event-Related Potentials in Patients With Chronic Neuropathic Pain Due To CRPS or Diabetic Neuropathy

This is a controlled trial designed to determine short- and long-term effects of repeated tDCS on the P300 component of event-related evoked potentials in patients with chronic neuropathic pain due to Complex regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or diabetic neuropathy as compared with healthy subjects.

The latency and amplitude of P300, subjective pain intensity, and pain thresholds for tactile and thermal stimuli will be determined at before and 15 min and 120 min after the 1st and 5th tDCS/sham procedure, To receive tDCS/sham treatment, two electrodes will be placed on the patient´s skull (for details see section Methods) and the patient will rest for 5 min. After that, the patient will receive 20 minutes of 2 mA tDCS/sham. Subjective pain intensity, and pain thresholds for tactile and thermal stimuli will be determined before-, 15 min after and 120 min after each tDCS/Sham procedure. At the 1st and 5th tDCS/Sham session, the latency and amplitude of P300 will be determined before-, 15 min after and 120 min after the tDCS/sham procedure.

Inclusion Criteria:


Affected an upper limb or lower limb
CRPS-related neuropathic pain with a score for "worst pain in the last 24 hours" ≥4 on a numeric scale 0-10
Must meet CRPS diagnostic criteria (Sandroni et al., 2003) with the application of the IASP criteria as adapted by Bruehl et al (1999):

Continuing pain which is disproportionate to any inciting event,
Must report at least one symptom (symptoms here are reports by subject) in each of the four following categories: sensory, vasomotor, sudomotor/edema, motor/trophic;
Must display at least one sign (signs here refer to objective observation/testing) in in each of the four following categories: sensory, vasomotor, sudomotor/edema, motor/trophic;
tDCS naïve
Affected an upper limb or lower limb
Diabetes-related neuropathic pain with a score for "worst pain in the last 24 hours" ≥4 on a numeric scale 0-10

Control Subjects

Age between 18 and 70 years
No serious health problems
No chronic pain experience for the last six months prior the enrollment
No acute pain of intensity 4 or higher in the last week prior the enrollment
tDCS naïve

Exclusion Criteria:


Serious health problems other than CRPS or Diabetic Neuropathy (e.g. uncontrolled hypertension, uncontrolled diabetes)
Pain/painful conditions unrelated to CRPS or Diabetic Neuropathy
History of seizures/epilepsy
Implanted device (e.g. pacemaker)
Active illegal drug/alcohol abuse
Unable to follow directions or complete tools in English
Previous exposure to tDCS stimulation

Control Subjects

Serious health problems (e.g. uncontrolled hypertension, uncontrolled diabetes)
Any painful condition
History of seizures/epilepsy
Implanted device (e.g. pacemaker)
Active illegal drug/alcohol abuse
Unable to follow directions or complete tools in English
Previous exposure to the tDCS stimulation

9 Not yet recruiting Intravenous Immunoglobulins in Complex-regional Pain Syndrome

CRPS, a chronic pain syndrome associated with trophic disturbances is a frequent complication after limb trauma. More than one third of the CRPS will continue to chronic disease including loss of function in one limb. Some reports implicate an autoimmune pathogenesis of CRPS. Especially the finding of autoantibodies against peripheral neurons and successful treatment in single cases provide evidence for a possible successful treatment of CRPS with intravenous immunoglobulins (IvIg). Therefore IvIg may be an important anti-inflammatory treatment to prevent severe chronification of CRPS. Since IvIg is mainly effective in B-cell-mediated autoimmune diseases, autoantibodies against autonomic neurons and the concentration of B-cell activating factors BAFF and APRIL will be measured in the course of the study.

Inclusion Criteria:

CRPS 1 (according to the IASP criteria) between 6 weeks and 6 months after diagnosis
skin temperature of the affected side equal or higher than on non-affected side
no change of the analgetic or co-analgetic medication within the last 10 days

Exclusion Criteria:

Immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory treatment within the last three months
CRPS previously treated with sympathetic block, lidocaine patch, local DMSO, spinal cord stimulation, intrathecal drug administration
Known immune-mediated neuropathy (CIDP, MMN, MADSAM)
Selective IgA-deficiency
Severe heart disease
Tumour disease in the last 5 years
Allergy against Gamunex 10%
Chronic renal disease Vaccination with live vaccine within the last three months
Member of another clinical trial within the last 3 months

Contact: Franz Blaes, MD +49-641-99(0) ext 45357
Contact: Marlene Tschernatsch, MD +49-641-99(0) ext 45400

Hospital of the Justus-Liebig-University
Giessen, Hessen, Germany, 35392

10 Recruiting Pregabalin Versus Placebo as an Add on for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CPRS) of the Upper Limb Managed by Stellate Ganglion Block (The PREGA Study)

Pregabalin group is made up of 20 patients. Patients will receive 150mg/day in two divided does. The patients will be assessed weekly and the dose can be increased to 300mg/day, if the patient does not report any decrease in pain. The following week the dose may be increased to 600mg/day if once again the patient reports no decrease in pain. This is also the maximum permissible does that will be given to the patient. If patient reports any side effects then the dose can be decreased once. The time period of 2 to 5 weeks will be the dose adjustment period. After which the drug maintenance period extends from week 5 to 12. All doses will be given in two divided doses/day.

Inclusion Criteria:

Patients diagnosed with CRPS Type I as per the IASP (International Association for the Study of Pain) criteria which states presence of an initiating noxious event, or cause for immobilization
Evidence at some point of swelling, color change, hot/cold/sweaty sensation and no other condition which can account for the pain and dysfunction of the upper limb
Men or women between ages 18-65 year old
Women should not be pregnant or breast feeding
No change in treatment for 4 weeks prior to recruitment
Pain scores of 4/10 on a verbal analogue scale

Exclusion Criteria:

Patients with a neurologic disorder unrelated to CRPS
Patients who are already on pregabalin
Patients with renal impairment whose creatinine clearance is less than 60 ml/min
Patients with congestive heart failure who are also diabetic and taking thiazolidinedione medication like rivoglitazone
Unstable psychiatric history
Patients with another problem with equal or worse pain
Unstable medical condition

Canada, Ontario
Hamilton General Hospital
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L8L 2X2
Contact: Lynda Rickards, RN 905-521-2100 ext 44481
Principal Investigator: Norman Buckley, MD

11 The Efficacy of Motor Cortex Stimulation for Pain Control

The objective is to determine if motor cortex stimulation works for the following conditions:

Deafferentation facial pain,
Upper extremity complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and
Brachial plexus avulsion or phantom limb pain.
Each of these groups of 6 patients (total of 18) will be studied independently and all patients will be implanted with a motor cortex stimulation system. They will be randomised to either a regular or low stimulation setting in the two arms of the study. Each arm will last 3 months.
This is a prospective, blinded randomized crossover study comparing two stimulation paradigms in three different groups of patients receiving motor cortex stimulation. The aim of this study is to examine the effectiveness of this modality in a controlled blinded manner, which has not been done in previous studies. There are two primary purposes of this study. The first is to compare two different stimulation paradigms: "high" level stimulation (i.e. stimulator activated 'on' for 10 minutes, 'off' for 2 hours; presumed therapeutic dose); versus "low" stimulation ('on' for 1 minute, 'off' for 6 hours; presumed subtherapeutic dose), in a prospective blinded crossover study design.

The second purpose of this study, is to examine the outcome of MCS in three different pain groups. These are:

Unilateral upper extremity neuropathic pain such as brachial plexus avulsion, stump pain or phantom limb pain
Neuropathic deafferentation facial pain
Upper extremity complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
Measurements of the effects of motor cortex stimulation will include a visual analogue scale (VAS) of perceived pain, the McGill Pain Questionnaire, SF-36 quality of life questionnaire, Beck Depression Inventory-II, the standard 7-point patient global impression of change (PGIC), medications log (verified by pharmacy records) and an employment status questionnaire. Adverse events will be recorded at each visit.

Canada, Nova Scotia
Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3H 3A7
Contact: Robert M Brownstone, MD, PhD 902 473 6850
Contact: Paula M Chiasson, MSc 902 473 7809
Principal Investigator: Robert M Brownstone, MD, PhD

12 Neurotropin to Treat Chronic Neuropathic Pain

*Study start date was September 2000, purportedly to end September 2007.

Patients with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), re-named Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, type I (CRPS-I), have chronic, post-traumatic pain that spreads beyond the distribution of any single peripheral nerve without evidence of major peripheral nerve damage. A similar disorder, Causalgia, re-named CRPS-II, presents with clear evidence of nerve injury. No successful drug treatment exists for these disorders. Neurotropin is a non-protein extract of cutaneous tissue from rabbits inoculated with vaccinia virus. Neurotropin has been used extensively in Japan to treat RSD and other painful conditions; however, the drug has not undergone clinical therapeutic testing in the United States. This protocol is to carry out double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover studies about clinical efficacy of Neurotropin for acute pain in dental outpatients and for chronic pain in outpatients with CRPS-I or II.

Patients with CRPS I and II will receive an individualized regimen of physical therapy and standard treatment to control their pain. In addition, they will receive neurotropin or placebo tablets for 5 weeks, then no trial medicine for at least 1 week, and then the other trial drug for the next 5 weeks. That is, patients who took placebo the first 5 weeks will take neurotropin the second 5 weeks and vice versa. Neither the patients nor the doctors will know who received which drug during the two intervals until the study is over. Patients will complete questionnaires about their pain, quality of life, and ability to perform daily living activities. They will have various tests to measure pain (such as sensitivity to heat and cold, to an electric current, to a mild pin prick, etc.); to provide information about changes in their condition (such as tests of range of motion of joints and limb size); to measure blood circulation and sweating in the arm or leg (such as measurements of blood flow to the limb, skin temperature, and sweat production), and other procedures.

Dental outpatients undergoing elective removal of impacted third molars based on a preoperative diagnosis of the type and number of teeth to be extracted. The difficulty of extraction will be classified based on clinical exam and a panoramic radiograph as simple extraction (1), soft tissue impaction (2), partial boney impaction (3), or full boney impaction (4). Both lower teeth to be extracted should be similarly boney impacted, and the score for each of the two lower teeth should be 3 to 4. Uppers are usually in soft tissue. The diagnosis for each tooth will be confirmed by the oral surgeon after the procedure based on the surgical procedure actually performed.

CRPS patients are referred with a diagnosis of CRPS-I or CRPS-II in one limb only, based on pain (1) that is post-traumatic and spread beyond the region of the injury; (2) has persisted for more than 2 weeks; and (3) is associated with swelling, altered skin color or skin temperature, altered sweating, allodynia or hyperesthesia or limitation of active movement. Atrophic changes in skin, hair loss or nail changes, or disuse atrophy of skeletal muscle may be present.

Both sexes are to be studied.

All ethnic and racial groups can participate.

Patients must be willing to return to NIH for follow-up evaluation under this protocol.


Dental outpatients must not be taking any medications chronically (with the exception of oral contraceptive agents).

Pregnant and lactating women are excluded.

Based on the oral surgeon's postoperative diagnosis, any extraction which is classified as producing unusual surgical trauma will result in exclusion from the remainder of the study.

Dental subjects will also be excluded if they are not adequately sedated by midazolam alone and require intraoperative administration of an opioid drug such as fentanyl, administration of greater than 14.4 ml of local anesthetic (2% lidocaine with 1:100,000 epinephrine), or postoperative administration of a steroid for possible injury to the inferior alveolar nerve.

Patients referred with CRPS-I or CRPS II who have abnormal screening test results or who have non-traumatic disorders to which pain may be attributed (gout, malignancy, arthritis, etc.) will be excluded.

Any patients who have had ablative procedures for treatment of their neuropathic pain disorder will not be eligible for inclusion in this study.

Patients who have a positive HIV result will be excluded.

Subjects with obviously impaired mental capacity that precludes informed consent and ability to provide adequate self-ratings are to be excluded.

National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office (800) 411-1222

Background info on Neurotropin:
The Antiallodynic and Antihyperalgesic Effects of Neurotropin® in Mice with Spinal Nerve Ligation

13 Evaluation and Diagnosis of People With Pain and Fatigue Syndromes


This screening protocol is designed to facilitate patient recruitment to the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) clinical research studies on pain and fatigue syndromes. Patients must meet the specific requirements of an IRB-approved research study; this protocol serves as a first step for evaluating patients for possible inclusion in a natural history or intervention protocol.

Candidates will be screened with medical history/physical examination, routine laboratory tests, and questionnaires. The physical examination may include the standardized tender point assessment as specified in the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) to diagnose fibromyalgia, measurements of pain (allodynia, hyperalgesia, and hyperpathia), edema, autonomic dysfunction (altered skin color, temperature, or sudomotor activity), and extent of musculoskeletal dysfunction by doing strength tests (i.e. hand grips), walk tests (6-minute walk test), physical activity monitoring (portable activity monitor), and exercise test. It will also assess the patients' level of pain, fatigue, and quality of life by providing questionnaires for the patients to complete. When the screening is completed, patients will be informed of their options to participate in other NINR interventional or observational clinical research studies. Patients who are not eligible for these studies will be informed of alternative treatments. No treatment is offered under this protocol. Information collected in this protocol will be used to determine eligibility to other NINR protocols.

Are greater than or equal to 18 years of age;
Have symptoms of pain and/or fatigue.

Inability to provide informed consent for the study;
Are unwilling or unable to cooperate with the study procedures or travel to NIH for the procedures.

Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office (800) 411-1222
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892

14 Regional Anesthesia Military Battlefield Pain Outcomes Study

Sponsor -- Dept of Veteran Affairs
Collaborators -- Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center


Adequate pain management for combat casualties balances the need for emergent, life-saving care with the urgency to remove soldiers from harm's way. Control of pain in traumatic battlefield situations may be impossible until safe evacuation to a surgical facility is achieved and a wounded soldier can receive general anesthesia. Recent evidence suggests that neural plasticity in the central nervous system coupled with hyperstimulation of central neuronal pathways lead to neuropathological remodeling. This neural rewiring may result in chronic pain for patients who have experienced severe, unrelieved acute pain. In addition, the stress of combat along with the suffering of prolonged uncontrolled pain may contribute to psychological disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance abuse.


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effect of early and aggressive advanced regional anesthesia on the chronic neuropathic pain, health related quality of life, and mental health of OEF/OIF veterans who have suffered a major limb injury in combat. An additional aim of this study is to quantify and characterize the short-term and long-term effects of traumatic combat limb injuries on post-injury acute pain, chronic pain, health related quality of life, functional status, social reintegration, psychological adjustment, and substance abuse behaviors in a population of injured military personnel.


This study employs a cohort repeated measures study design involving prospective data collection at scheduled intervals. Interviews with participants provide data on pain outcomes, psychiatric morbidities, and quality of life. Follow up evaluations conclude at the two year anniversary of the start of combat injury rehabilitation. Medical records information collected retrospectively from armed services treatment facilities provide data on the use of pain management therapies as well as individual responses to regional anesthesia.


The findings of this study may impact the clinical field by providing information on the effectiveness and benefits of early advanced regional anesthesia for chronic pain control. This study may also provide data to determine whether regional anesthesia pain treatments prevent or reduce the development of psychological maladjustment disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance abuse in a population of military personnel with combat limb injuries.

Study Population:
Soldiers with one or more mangled or amputated limbs from Iraq/Afghanistan war.

Inclusion Criteria:

Major injury in one or more extremities requiring hospitalization and inpatient rehabilitation.

Exclusion Criteria:

Major head trauma,
Cognitive deficits,
Inability to concentrate
Poor judgment and impulse control,
Substantial hearing loss
Bilateral upper extremity amputation with no alternate means to complete the survey forms

Contact: Yolanda S Williams, MPH (215) 823-5800 ext 2774
Contact: Holly Luu, BA (215) 823-5800 ext 6506


United States, District of Columbia
Walter Reed Army Medical Center Recruiting
Washington, District of Columbia, United States, 20307
Contact: Lt. Col. Chester C Buckenmaier III, MD 202-782-7652

United States, Pennsylvania
Pain Management Service Recruiting
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, 19104
Contact: Lynn A Watson (215) 823-5800 ext 6023
Contact: Yvette Roberts (215) 823-5800 ext 6020
Principal Investigator: Rollin McCulloch Gallagher, MD MPH

United States, Texas
Brooke Army Medical Center Not yet recruiting
Fort Sam Houston, Texas, United States, 78234
Contact: Cpt. Laura McGhee, PhD 210-916-5482


Additional reading:

American Pain Foundation -- Battlefield Medicine and Combat Trauma: New Approaches to Pain Relief, September 9, 2005, Lt. Col. Chester C. Buckenmaier III, MD

Anesthesia and Perioperative Care/Textbook of Military Medicine

15 Susceptibility to Chronic Post-Traumatic Extremity Pain

This will be a prospective association study in which we will recruit patients who have experienced single extremity trauma, or who have scheduled elective surgery on a single extremity. HRQoL will be determined at recruitment. We will identify their haplotypes and genotypes for 4 linked SNPs in the coding region of COMT as described by Diatchenko [2]. Patients will receive follow-up at 3 and 6 months following trauma or surgery. Individuals who report either neuropathic pain or a reduced HRQoL score will be more closely examined, in order to identify CPSP or CRPS. Statistical analyses will be performed to determine whether haplotypes are associated with the development of either condition, and to determine the strength of this association.

Study Population:
Patients undergoing shoulder surgery

Inclusion Criteria:
Provide written Informed Consent prior to participation in the study
Be at lease 18, but not more than 80 years of age
Have the ability to read and understand the study procedures and the use of the pain scales and have the ability to communicate meaningfully with the Study Investigator and staff.
Be free of other physical, mental, or medical conditions, which, in the opinion of the Investigator, makes Study participation inadvisable
Is scheduled to undergo open or arthroscopic shoulder surgery
If the subject is a female of childbearing potential, have a negative pregnancy test on the day of surgery.

Exclusion Criteria:
- Has significant medical disease(s), laboratory abnormalities or conditions(s) that in the Investigator's judgment could compromise the Subject's welfare, ability to communicate with the Study staff, complete Study activities, or would otherwise contraindicate Study participation

United States, Michigan
William Beaumont Hospitals
Royal Oak, Michigan, United States, 48073
Contact: Cecile Pestano, RN 248-898-1907
Contact: Nickole Carlson, RN 248-898-1907

William Beaumont Hospital
Troy, Michigan, United States, 48085
Contact: Cecile Pestano, RN 248-964-3440
Contact: Nickole Carlson, RN 248-898-1907

Additional reading: The Internet Journal of Anesthesiology 2008 : Volume 15 Number 2
Chronic Post-surgical Pain: Prevention remains better than cure
Alfred Philip James Lake FFARCS

16 Effect of an Educational Intervention on Cardiac Patients' Participation Rate in Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs DESPITE MY BEST EFFORTS, THEY KEEP RELISTING THIS STUDY. CRP = CARDIAC REHAB PROGRAMS, NOT CRPS

17 Not yet recruiting Efficacy of Etoricoxib on Peripheral Hyperalgesia

Animal experiments analysing anti-hyperalgesic effects of Coxibs show inconsistent results due to different used dosages and varying different pain models. Theoretical the use of NSAIDs is rational, particularly of Coxibs as a part of the neuropathic pain management. But in the newest topical review, there is no valid information available about the effectiveness of these drugs in human neuropathic pain models or in patients with different underlying mechanism, e.g. with or without hyperalgesia.

Inclusion Criteria:

Patients over 18 years with
Persistent moderate or severe pain (> 4 on NRS (1..10)) at rest (average of three daily assessments using a diary for at least two days) .
Neuropathic pain associated with a clinical and neurologically proven peripheral nerve injury, radiculopathy, postherpetic neuralgia or polyneuropathy or CRPS
One of the two following QST phenotypes at the baseline assessment:

signs of peripheral hyperalgesia (that means, pathological decreased heat pain threshold and/or pathological decreased muscle pain threshold)
without signs of peripheral hyperalgesia (no pathological decreased heat - and/or muscle pain threshold)
Patients of both gender
Signed consent form
Patients with the ability to understand and follow the instructions of the doctor

Exclusion Criteria:

Excluded will be patients Parkinson's disease or a history of cerebral vascular insult or nerve injury.

Excluded will be also all patients with contradictions for the use of Etoricoxib:

Hypersensitivity to the active substance or to any of the excipients.
Active peptic ulceration or active gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding.
Patients who have experienced bronchospasm, acute rhinitis, nasal polyps, angioneurotic oedema, urticaria, or allergic-type reactions after taking acetyl-salicylic acid or NSAIDs including COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2) inhibitors.
Pregnancy and lactation
Severe hepatic dysfunction

Additional Reading: Interaction of Hyperalgesia and Sensory Loss in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type I (CRPS I)

Pharmacologic Therapies for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, and Steven Feinberg, MD, MPH

18 Cerebrospinal Fluid Repository

The only specific procedures unique to this protocol is the collection of an additional 3ml or less of cerebrospinal fluid from a lumbar puncture already being performed and the collection of clinical information from the patients medical records. Lumbar puncture may be either a research procedure or a standard of care procedure, depending upon the reason for initiating the puncture. We will aliquot the additional fluid into a separate storage container and it will be maintained in the laboratory of Dr. Heiman-Patterson at -70 degrees. Clinical information including age, medical and neurological history, laboratory data, and pathologic information where indicated will be abstracted from the patient chart. All specimens and corresponding clinical information will be labeled with an identification number and sorted by diagnosis. There will be no patient identifying information kept with the specimens. The CSF sample may be used for studies performed by researchers at Drexel University College of Medicine or shared with collaborators. The CSF sample provided will only be used for projects that have approval by the IRB, but subjects will not be notified each time it is used for a study. If CSF sample is still available, consent can be withdrawn at any time by writing a letter to Dr. Heiman-Patterson requesting the withdrawal of the sample.

Researchers will request control and disease specific samples to use in various research studies. There are no DNA studies.

Inclusion Criteria:

Any person undergoing a diagnostic lumbar puncture with a neurologic illness
Any person undergoing a lumbar puncture as part of anesthesia
Any person who is undergoing a lumbar puncture for other research purposes such as clinical trials and who has already consented to the lumbar puncture for that purpose.

MDA/ALS Center of Hope
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, 19104
Contact: Christine Barr, RN 215-762-5186
Principal Investigator: Terry Heiman-Patterson, MD

19 Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Effects on Pain Perception

Chronic pain represents a huge public health concern and is generally poorly understood at a basic neurobiological level. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive technique that uses electromagnetic pulses to temporarily stimulate specific brain areas in awake people (without the need for surgery, anesthesia, or other invasive procedures). Previous research suggests that TMS may be effective in reducing pain perception in healthy adults and in patients with various types of pain conditions, such as neuropathic pain. However, there is relatively little research on TMS and pain that addresses optimal TMS device parameters, optimal cortical targets, and potential differences in response to TMS between healthy persons and those with chronic pain.

The purpose of this trial is to study the effects of TMS on pain perception. Specifically, this study will determine optimal device parameters (dose) and brain targets for stimulation with TMS in order to reduce pain in patients with neuropathic pain and in healthy adults using laboratory pain methods.

Participants with Neuropathic Pain:

After an initial screening, eligible participants with neuropathic pain will receive a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to help determine the best target for TMS stimulation later in the study. Participants will be asked to record their pain experiences every day for 2 weeks before receiving the first of 2 laboratory pain assessments. The laboratory pain assessment uses a small device, controlled by a computer and attached to the underside of the forearm, to produce different temperature stimulations. As the device reaches a level considered painful to the participant, he/she can push a button to return to a level of comfort.

The next part of the trial involves two, 20-minute TMS treatment sessions per day for 5-days. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of two groups. Group A will receive real TMS and Group B will receive "sham" TMS. Study participation time for individuals with TGN is about 8 weeks, including about 10 hours (7 visits) at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

Healthy Volunteers:

In addition to an interview with researchers regarding medical history, healthy participants will complete a self-report screening to assess pain history and level of depression and anxiety. Eligible participants will be given a laboratory pain assessment, and be randomly assigned to one of two groups: group A will receive real TMS and group B will receive "sham" TMS. After TMS, participants will receive another full laboratory pain assessment and complete questionnaires. For healthy volunteers, participation in the study will take about 3 hours and may be completed in one or two visits.

Inclusion Criteria:

For Healthy Adults:
Between age of 21 and 75
No prescription medications in previous 3 months
No seizure history
No depression
Not suicidal
No anxiety
No hospitalizations or surgeries in previous 6 months
No history of chronic pain conditions
No implanted metal devices (e.g., pacemakers, metal plates, wires)
Not pregnant
No alcohol abuse/dependence history in previous 6 months
No illicit drug use in previous 6 months
Capable of reading, writing, giving consent, following instructions
No history of brain surgery or history of loss of consciousness >15 minutes
No history of autoimmune or endocrine disorder
No significant anxiety about entering MRI scanner

For Patients with neuropathic pain:
Between age of 21 and 75
No seizure history
Not taking medications shown to increase seizure risk (6 months)
Not suicidal
No hospitalizations or surgeries in previous 3 months
No implanted metal devices (e.g., pacemakers, metal plates, wires)
Not pregnant
No alcohol abuse/dependence history in previous 6 months
No illicit drug use in previous 6 months
Capable of reading, writing, giving consent, following instructions
Chronic pain (>6 months), not significantly relieved by pharmacological treatment
No significant anxiety about entering MRI scanner

Brain Stimulation Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Medical University of South Carolina 5-North, IOP, 67 President Street
Charleston, South Carolina, United States, 29425
Contact: Jeffrey J Borckardt, Ph.D. 843-876-5142
Principal Investigator: Jeffrey J. Borckardt, Ph.D.

Additional reading:
Sensorimotor integration in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: A transcranial magnetic stimulation study
Pain, Volume 127, Issue 3, Pages 270-275
A. Turton, C. McCabe, N. Harris, S. Filipovic

General article on Wikipedia

20 Effects of Vaporized Marijuana on Neuropathic Pain

The case for marijuana's medical use for pain is primarily from experimental studies with normal subjects, which have yielded conflicting results. Experimental subjects have been shown to have significant dose-dependant antinociception effect that is not reversed by opioid antagonism. In contrast to this positive antinociceptive effect, other experiments demonstrated hyperalgesic activity and probably enhancement of the perception of pain upon acute exposure in chronic users of marijuana.

In addition to studying spontaneous pain antinociception, it would be useful to evaluate the response to marijuana following evoked pain. Such evoked pain is produced by stimulation of the skin that is normally not noxious.

Because of the potential side effects of marijuana administration, one of the aims of the present study is to analyze inter-individual variability and the occurrence of dose-dependant analgesia of marijuana with an eye on defining tolerable dosing in clinical neuropathic pain syndromes.

Comparisons: Neuropathic and experimentally induced pain scores will be compared after the administration of escalating doses of low, high, and placebo marijuana cigarettes as provided by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Inclusion Criteria:

Age greater than 18 and less than 70
Visual Analogue Scale (VAS pain intensity) greater than 3/10
A negative urine drug screening test, i.e., no evidence of IV drug abuse
Neuropathic pain due to reflex sympathetic dystrophy, peripheral neuropathy, post-herpetic neuralgia, post-stroke pain, multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury

Exclusion Criteria:

Presence of another painful condition of greater severity than the neuropathic pain condition which is being studied.
Subjects with moderate-severe major depression, bipolar/mania, bipolar II/hypomania and schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.
Unstable Type 1 or 2 diabetes defined as blood glucose more than 156 mg/dl
History of traumatic brain injury
Uncontrolled medical condition, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, cerebrovascular disease, asthma, tuberculosis (TB), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), opportunistic infection, malignancy requiring active treatment, active substance abuse (alcohol or injection drugs).
Current use of marijuana (e.g., within 30 days of randomization)
Pregnancy as ascertained by a self-report and a mandatory commercial pregnancy test.

Contact: Staci M. Sakai, BS 916-734-2935

United States, California
CTSC Clinical Research Center, Sacramento VA Medical Center Recruiting
Sacramento, California, United States, 95817
Contact: Laurie Vazquez, RN, MSN, FNP 916-843-9436

Sunday, April 18, 2010

American Idyll: Post 1,000

{photographs are from the american idyll blog, property of TW and ruuscal}

Congratulations to TW (and sidekick ruuscal) on the publication of the 1000th post over at American Idyll.

I remember my first visit -- that would have been in the wee hours of 4 January 2008, about 12 hours after receiving my first ever email from this talented Brother-Unit of mine. I had only recently learned he was still alive and had inundated him with pesky overtures.

I followed my heart and, despite the steady silence, sent a copy of the "new" Oppen collected works as a Christmas gift, thinking that the poet's own gift with words (and silence, too) might speak a better language.

a substantial language / Of clarity, and of respect

It was a very blue time.

I had sent off to him a final email and was kicking myself for it -- too long and too clingy, it had ended:

Make of all this what you will, but please believe me -- I have never been allowed any knowledge of you, except that which my memory guards, and I bring to you no agenda or pre-conceptions. I would prefer not to be the foil for the anger you bear toward some notion of a collective "family" -- but if I need to play that role, I'll give it my best shot.

I wish... so many things. That I could touch your face. That all of this massive stupidity and meanness had never happened.

So it was with exceeding joy -- that has not finished with me yet -- that I found this among the detritus of my inbox late in the day, Thursday, January 3 :

dear x -

thank you for the very generous and most appreciated gift of the poetry, your xmas card and emails. it has taken me longer than my usual tardy brooding tendency toward mute unresponsiveness to answer at all due to a recently broken shoulder, a loathing of christmas in general and a too-slammed-to-do-anything-but-try-to-survive workload of helping to keep an understaffed sportsbook afloat during college football bowl season.

plus, as you may surmise from the breezy fashion with which
[one of our unfortunate relatives who had attempted to thwart our reunion] feels so free to reduce someone about whom she knows so little into a bite-size caricature, i am not one for busybody blabbermouths in general, and neither care to be anyone's project nor consider that there is any fold which i am longing to be brought back into à la the long lost lamb. (no prize find for some oprah/dr. phil instigated genealogical scavenger hunt moi)

but you seem very likeable. just enough snark and darkside to make me think we may just get along. at any rate, by way of new year's greetings i forward a link to one of my tiresome blogs in the hope that an amateur's photos celebrating grand canyon backcountry may assuage some of the insomniac wanderlust that is sure to afflict a cerebral soul confined to a wheelchair:
american idyll.

more soon,
tw (haven't been called xxxxxx in 35 years)

Honest to God, I had no recollection of the Dr. Phil/Oprah reference, but isn't that timely?!

I had -- in the dead of winter -- made wonderful gazpacho that afternoon and Fred and I had fought before he went off -- purportedly, to run errands, but probably just to get away. The details of the fight escape me, but I recall it having stemmed, in large part, from my sad and poorly controlled frustration at not having heard any word from Tumbleweed.

You know, I think the spat involved whether or not we needed a new model PUR water filter. Why do I remember that and not how the green of his shirt set off his hazel eyes?

When Fred came home, I was awash in happy tears. We rejoiced together and I was so overwhelmed and exhausted that I decided to put off checking out my brother's blog. *One* of his blogs.

But I couldn't sleep that night, couldn't rest. In the dark, I pulled my laptop into bed and fumbled until I found the link to American Idyll.

Word and image! ut pictura poesis! You'll not be surprised to learn that my graduate work was organized around the excessively cute dialectic of "lutte" pictura poesis. So how perfect and what a testiment to the Nature::Nurture struggle was the sight of his powerful photography and the sound of his chosen texts.

He was right, of course, and American Idyll has assuaged considerable wanderlust and has served to defy both physical and mental limitations.

It's a place for mindful meditation and the occasional romp in the water...

It is only a dream of the grass blowing
east against the source of the sun
in an hour before the sun’s going down

whose secret we see in a
children’s game
of ring a round of roses told.

Often I am
permitted to return to a meadow

as if it were a given property of the mind
that certain bounds hold against chaos,

that is a place of first
everlasting omen of what is.