No pain, no gain. You’ve heard that, right?
As if pain is somehow a good thing.
So let’s be clear. For people with mild cognitive impairment, pain is not a good thing. It is a major impediment to restoring their brain health and helping them to improve their cognition. And that’s what I want to talk about today.
Hi, I’m Tony Dearing of GoCogno.com, the website for people with mild cognitive impairment.
One thing that I’ve become more concerned about lately is the huge gap between the high level of care that some people with MCI are getting, and the nearly non-existent care the other people are being subjected to.
One of my goals is to help close that gap. At the very least, I want to make you aware of what really good care for MCI looks like, so that you can say, “Hey, wait a minute. Why am I not getting that?”
And for that, I look to experts like Dr. Nate Bergman. Here’s one of the recent videos that I’ve done with Dr. Bergman. He’s also the host of the “Evolving Past Alzheimer’s” podcast, which is a great podcast not just for people with Alzheimer’s, but for MCI as well.
Dr. Bergman is adamant is saying that MCI, and even early stage Alzheimer’s, “are generally treatable and reversible.”
Recently, he did a segment with Ryan Glatt, a brain health coach at the Pacific Brain Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
When Glatt first sees a patient with MCI, he puts them through this very specific questionnaire so that he can truly understand their situation and their unique vulnerabilities that may be contributing to their cognitive problems.
And one of the things he asks them is, are you in pain? If they are, that’s one of the first things that he wants to address.
Glatt says that chronic pain is one of the more overlooked obstacles in helping people with MCI halt or reverse their cognitive problems.
“There is this pain-cognition interaction,” Glatt says. “If people are in pain, they are likely to move less, and they’re probably more prone to decline. I definitely feel happy about getting someone out of pain and helping them move more.”
He told the story of a woman who needed to be more physically active, but all she could do was pool therapy, because of her pain. By showing her some self-massage techniques and certain mobility exercises, she was able to get over her pain, and now is able to do all sorts of exercises, including walking and riding a bike, and he says she’s doing amazingly well.
But from what I’ve seen, that is not the norm. I have the opportunity to talk to a lot of neurologists and neuropsychologists, and rarely do I hard them bring up the issue of chronic pain.
And if that’s an issue for you, that’s something to talk to your doctor about, not just in the context of your pain, but in the context of your cognition.
And even if pain is not an issue for you, there is still an underlying message here.
It’s about the importance of individualized, targeted care for people with MCI. This idea that you tell a thousand people with MCI “eat blueberries,” and they’re all going to get better, that’s not how it works.
There are doctors and patients out there who are getting really good results, but it’s not being done with generic care. Your version of MCI is unique to you, and what’s needed to address it has to be tailored to you.
For the woman in this example, the issue was pain. If that pain hadn’t been addressed, she wouldn’t be making the progress that she’s making right now.
What is it for you? Is it pain? Is it something else? Whatever it is, is it being addressed? Those are important questions to keep asking yourself — and your doctor.
Thanks for joining me today. I hope to see you again next week. Until then, as always, be kind to your mind.