“Changing Your Brain Is My Business” a KT Specialist Said

I attended Pain BC annual conference on Saturday Nov. 2nd and was captivated by a hint by one of the presenters. Neil Pearson, a registered physical therapist talked on theory and practice of pain self-management techniques. During his presentation, he mentioned about neuroplasticity which I found extremely applicable in Knowledge Translation theories and practice. The main idea of neuroplasticity is that the brain is not a static organ, but is changeable in response to experience. The interesting part here is that the brain has the ability to change even in response to new information. (Pearson, 2013)

Pain is defined as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage” by International Association for the Study of Pain.  Neuroplasticity argues that the brain and consequently the nervous system can behave differently when the person in pain gains new information. Knowledge really changes the nervous system behaviour.



A single case study with six patients with chronic whiplash associated disorders (WAD) aimed to examine whether education about the neurophysiology of pain is accompanied by changes insymptoms, daily functioning, pain beliefs, and behavior.  (Van Oosterwijck et al. 2011). Results show a significant decrease in pain related symptoms. The authors conclude that “education about the physiology of pain is able to increase pain thresholds and improve pain behavior and pain-free movement performance in patients with chronic WAD” (Van Oosterwijck et al. 2011).

In another study, Moseley et al. (2004) investigate the effect of neurophysiology education on cognitions, disability, and physical performance in chronic low back pain patients. In this randomized controlled trial, individual education sessions on neurophysiology of pain were conducted by trained physical therapist educators. The result of this study was that “education about pain neurophysiology changes pain cognitions and physical performance but is insufficient by itself to obtain a change in perceived disability. The results suggest that pain neurophysiology education, but not back school type education, should be included in a wider pain management approach” (Moseley et al. 2004).

This area is a measurable tangible field of study that  would be beneficial for researchers who are working on knowledge translation theoretically and practically. Not  only Neil Pearson admitted that these findings cannot be generalized and in all aforementioned research, researchers conclude that the data is not suitable for generalizing, the concept of changing the brain behaviour after getting new knowledge would be extremely tempting for knowledge translation experts. It could be the whole new opportunity for researchers who have many concerns about the limitations of intervention theories and practices. (Lawrence & Fortenberry, 2007; Michie et al., 2008).

Let’s start researching on neuroplasticity capacities for knowledge translation.



Lawrence J. & Fortenberry, D. (2007). Behavioral interventions for STDs: Theoretical models and intervention methods. In S. O. Aral & J. M. Douglas (Eds.), Behavioral interventions for prevention and control of sexually transmitted diseases (pp. 23-59). New York: Springer.

Michie, S. et al. (2008). “From theory to intervention: Mapping theoretically delivered behavioral determinants to behavior change techniques”. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 57 (4). pp. 660-680.

Moseley, GL, Hodges, PW, Nicholas, MK. “A randomized controlled trial of intensive neurophysiology education in chronic low back pain”. Clinical Journal of Pain, 2004, 20, 324-330

Pearson, N. (2013). Pain Self-management techniques: theories and practices. Pain BC Annual Conference. Nov 1s, 2013.

Van Oosterwijck et al, (2011) “Pain neurophysiology education improves cognitions, pain thresholds, and movement performance in people with chronic whiplash: A pilot study”, Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development. 48 (1), 201,  43–58.

image retrieved from http://bigthink.com/think-tank/brain-exercise


One response to ““Changing Your Brain Is My Business” a KT Specialist Said”

  1. cellis359 says :

    The post on pain management and KT strikes a cord as I am currently in a conference where two of my colleagues have so far mentioned chronic lower back conditions. One of them said that her extensive debilitating symptoms were traced to sitting 10 hours per day, six days per week. Someone mentioned a new condition called ‘sitting disease.’ As academic people who need to spend long hours at the computer, or drivers and other people who ‘sit’ to make a living, more knowledge needs to be made available about the physiology of back pain, its probable causes and how to prevent and manage it.

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