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The Biopsychosocial Approach in Athletes Experiencing Pain

presented by Adriaan Louw, PT, PhD

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Financial: Adriaan Louw publishes books on pain and receive an honorarium for the sales. He co-owns and teaches for a seminar company offering continuing education for healthcare providers. Adriaan is a technical consultant for a pain science virtual reality company from which he receives royalties. He also receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.

Nonfinancial: Adriaan Louw has no competing non-financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

MedBridge is committed to accessibility for all of our subscribers. If you are in need of a disability-related accommodation, please contact [email protected]. We will process requests for reasonable accommodation and will provide reasonable accommodations where appropriate, in a prompt and efficient manner.

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Video Runtime: 77 Minutes; Learning Assessment Time: 31 Minutes

Pain is common in athletes, and biomedical models tying injury to pain are often used to teach athletes about pain. These models are very limited, and there is a poor correlation between pain and injury--especially in athletes. It is now well established that many athletes experience injury or tissue issues yet experience little to no pain. Pain is very complex, and a biopsychosocial approach is needed to fully understand and explain pain in athletes. A key element in pain is the brain, or, more precisely, the brain's processing of the experience--the pain neuromatrix. During a pain experience, multiple areas of the brain become busy, forming a network of connections referred to as the pain neuromatrix, which individualizes a human's pain experience. The brain increasingly gets busy, which impacts pain, function, and ultimately sports performance in athletes. This course is a great step into the world of pain science for clinicians treating athletes of all kinds in different stages of life and injury.

Meet Your Instructor

Adriaan Louw, PT, PhD

Adriaan earned his bachelor's degree, master's degree, and PhD in physiotherapy from the Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa. He is an adjunct faculty member at St. Ambrose University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, teaching pain science. Adriaan has taught postgraduate spinal manual therapy and pain science classes throughout the US and…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Athletes and Pain

Pain is common in athletes, and often older, dated biomedical models are used to explain pain in athletes. Biomedical tissue models have various shortcomings when it comes to understanding pain in athletes.

2. The Biomedical Model for Athletes and Pain

Various imaging studies have shown the poor correlation between tissue issues and pain, especially in high-level athletes. To truly address pain in athletes, a biopsychosocial model is needed.

3. The Biopsychosocial Model for Athletes and Pain

To truly address pain in athletes, a biopsychosocial model is needed. Biopsychosocial constructs such as threat appraisal, onion skins, fear avoidance, pain mechanisms, and evolutionary biology help us understand pain more thoroughly in athletes experiencing pain.

4. Pain, the Brain, and Athletes

The brain is key when it comes to pain, including in athletes. During a pain experience, multiple areas of the brain become busy, forming a network of connections referred to as the pain neuromatrix, which individualizes a human’s pain experience. The brain increasingly gets busy, which impacts pain, function, and ultimately sports performance in athletes.

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