Helping people living with chronic pain
Neil Pearson, Artsci/PHE’85, PT’85, MSc’93, came to Queen’s with the goal of becoming a high school Phys Ed teacher. Today, he is a teacher of a different sort. Neil is an internationally recognized speaker on chronic pain. He is the inaugural Chair of the Pain Science Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and a Clinical Assistant Professor at UBC. While working towards his PHE degree at Queen’s, Neil became interested in sports therapy and rehabilitation, and continued his studies at Queen’s in Physical Therapy. After a few years of working in hospitals, he came back to Queen’s for his Master’s degree in Rehab, focusing on the biomechanics and treatment of whiplash disorders. “I was interested in considering an academic career while I was doing my Master’s,” says Neil, “but realized I preferred being a clinician as well as a teacher.” Today, he runs a clinical practice working with clients with complex chronic pain problems (www.lifeisnow.ca).
At UBC, he also teaches in the area of physiotherapy pain management and is helping to develop the university’s interdisciplinary pain management course. “How did I get here? The more I learned, the more I moved to this area of interest. I would say it evolved along with my understanding of pain as the key barrier faced by most of my patients and has somewhat paralleled the evolving scientific understanding of pain science.” He plans to spend more time with clients, teaching people in pain about pain management. “There are a growing number of courses being offered to teach health care professionals, but still there are few good resources for educating people in pain,” he says. “I started out wanting to be a teacher. I remain a teacher,” Neil says. “I continue to be inspired by the excellent teachers in the Physical Therapy School at Queen's, and always proud to say I am a Queen's grad.”