When you start a nonprofit to empower kids and families around pain, people definitely have questions. To be honest, sometimes it’s hard for people see why what we do is so important. The most common question: Does it really matter?
Short answer: HECK, YES!
Longer answer: The research is clear that early pain experiences carry LIFELONG consequences. They impact everything from addiction risk, to chronic pain risk, to adult healthcare outcomes as well as the willingness to listen to medical advice or simply go to the doctor in the first place. Our work at the Meg Foundation is not only about stopping unnecessary suffering in the now; it is about preventing unnecessary future suffering before it starts.
Needle fear and anxiety influence healthcare decisions for 63% of kids, 50% of teens, and 25% of adults. (Yep, that is one in FOUR!) This means fear is dictating whether someone gets a vaccine, has an unusual mole checked, or gets a blood test their doctor recommends. And more often than not, this fear is rooted in bad pain experiences that occurred (but could have been PREVENTED) in childhood. Access to the right tools and strategies, at the right time, prevents this kind of fear from negatively impacting future healthcare decisions and outcomes.
Pain is not just about body tissue damage and nerve stimulation.
The way you experience pain involves other physical, psychological, AND social factors, too. The good news is that theses additional factors provide more opportunities to help yourself feel better. But in order to do that and take control of your life, you first have to understand how pain works. Unfortunately, understanding pain isn’t something most people have been taught. And THAT needs to change.
The crazy thing is we are not introducing anything new, but it’s likely new to you (and most people). Everything we do and create is based on DECADES of research that aligns with the best practice guidelines of the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and every other major health organization in the world. But most medical providers (even the best ones) don’t know about, or follow, them. Plus, North American doctors only receive 7–10 hours of education about pain management over the course of their medical school training. That is simply not enough. We are determined to change the status quo!
Did you know that kids should never be held down for medical procedures?
Holding kids down is a recipe for medical trauma, yet it still happens every day. I bet you can think of a time that happened to you or your child. Using a strategy like comfort positioning is one way we can keep kids safe, calm, and comforted during procedures.
Pain is the number one reason that Americans access the healthcare system and the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. Estimates suggest pain costs the nation at least $560–635 billion a year in direct medical costs and lost productivity. And those numbers are only growing. We know the solution starts in childhood; with the right skills, tools and information, kids, families, and healthcare providers can manage pain BEFORE it gets out of control. This is how we stop the problem before it starts.
Now that you know the why, let’s take a look at what we have accomplished in last five years!
Fair warning – the following is pretty darn impressive, if we do say so ourselves. We’ve built a great foundation. But now we are primed and ready to grow! Let’s turn the tens of thousands families we’ve helped, into tens of millions. We firmly believe can get there together!
Jody Thomas, PhD, CEO and Founder, Meg Foundation