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A Child in Pain -- Book Review

By Pat Bacon

I want to recommend to any parents that you pick up a book called 'A Child In Pain' by Dr. Leora Kuttner. I stumbled across it (that's how I find the best resources, it seems) in a Chapters Book Store. I'll bet that your Barnes and Noble bookstores down there in the US could order it for you. I can't remember how much my copy was -- about $15 maybe (but those are Canuck bucks so yours should be cheaper).

Anyway, as a brief review:

This book is a wonderful resource to help any child who has to endure many medical procedures. Dr. Kuttner explains many techniques and tricks to help a child cope with pain. The methods in the book are organized by age of child, and you'll probably recognize some of the methods as ones you have seen in action in the children's hospitals you go to.

For example, how do you get a kid to sit still and get eye drops put in? Or hold our their arm for a blood draw? This book will comfort you and empower you as the parent to help your child cope with procedures that make them anxious or scared.

The premise of the book is that children can be taught these coping skills at a very young age and with the help of a parent or adult they trust, can take control of their own responses to pain. The idea is that those kids who learn to manage their own pain feel more in control, less like a guinea pig being done to. When they feel in control, the procedure itself is less scary to them and the anxiety is lessened, therefore the pain is also reduced (the brain/intellectual response being as important to the perception of pain as the physical response --- according to Dr. Kuttner the two CANNOT be separated).

Dr. Kuttner also explains what pain is physiologically -- how the receptors and nerves and the brain all work together in the pain response. She then also explains three approaches: anesthetic, analgesic and .... (sorry, don't have it in front of me -- I loaned it to one of the surgeons here at the craniofacial clinic who said it would be a great resource for the library at the Alberta Children's Hospital).

Dr. Kuttner is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Vancouver BC. She set up the pain management programs for the kids on the oncology unit at BC Kids' Hospital several years ago.

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