Coping with pain

‘Visualize your way out of it,’ psychologist tells work comp audience

By Tony Gottschlich, BWC Public Information Officer

There’s another way to deal with chronic pain that doesn’t involve medications or surgery, a psychologist told an audience Friday at the 2017 Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium.

It’s called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and it’s not as complicated as it sounds. In fact, the techniques are rather simple, said Michael Coupland, medical director for Integrated Medical Case Solutions in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely accepted form of psychotherapy that is based on the cognitive model: the way that individuals perceive a situation is more closely connected to their reaction than the situation itself.

Coupland explained that we can condition our brains to control pain or banish it from our consciousness. But it takes practice, a daily repetition of mantras, deep breathing techniques, meditation and other mindfulness methods for it to take root and stick.

Thanks to neuroplasticity, the brain can reorganize or rewire itself, both physically and functionally, throughout your life in response to your environment, behavior, thinking and emotions.

“Exercise your neurons, visualize your way out of this,” he said. “I tell my patients, ‘Whether you believe in this or not, just humor me and do this every day for eight weeks.’ These techniques help stand down the body’s stress-arousal system.”

Coupland admitted it’s tough for most patients to accept this approach. Mindfulness, a state of active, open awareness of the present moment, and meditation are about “letting go,” but the American educational system teaches us to “hold on” to everything we learn.

Coupland shared with the audience a book he authored in the style of Dr. Seuss that illustrates the simplicity and effectiveness of CBT. It’s titled, “Up Pain, Down Pain, Good Brain, Bad Brain,” and can be found for free here.

For more on Coupland and his work, visit or

Register now: Free continuing education opportunities!

Dr. Brian Wilson, SE Regional Director, Provider Engagement

Among being involved in many initiatives here at BWC, I am honored to be assisting as a committee member on our 2016 Ohio Workers Compensation Medical and Health Symposium, March 10 -11. This year’s slate of speakers offers a wide array of topics from various experts in the field of pain management and neuromusculoskeletal care.

Free continuing education
As a fellow health-care professional, I am excited BWC is offering these sessions to my colleagues which will help inform them about the latest trends/treatments relative to practice and patient care, not to mention the fact that these sessions qualify for free continuing education credit for physicians, chiropractors, nurses and vocational rehabilitation providers. For your review, here is the symposium brochure.

Some of the topics I have a particular interest in are Concussion/Post-Concussion Syndrome, Knee Injuries, Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Pain Management, and Non-Opioid Treatment Options – just to name a few.  In today’s health-care paradigm, providers are collaborating more and more and utilizing a team approach toward patient care.  This proves most important when dealing with concussions and the myriad of approaches to manage those who suffer with this type of injury.

Also, the session dealing with knee injuries particularly resonates well here in Ohio since BWC unveiled its new pilot study, the Enhanced Care Program, in northeastern Ohio.  This program is designed to provide better coordinated care among our provider community for the injured worker. Finally, our intent is to give our attendees options in treatment of certain cases where they can utilize less opiate usage and more alternative methods with potentially the same outcome, just less invasive.

We hope this symposium will help assist providers in addressing their patients’ needs by understanding various approaches from least invasive to most invasive measures while striving to provide the utmost evidence-based healthcare on a case-by-case basis.

I hope you will consider joining us this year, so we can continue to build and expand this symposium in the future.

Attention medical & health professionals







DrStephenWoodsBy Dr. Stephen Woods, BWC Chief Medical Officer

One of the things I like most about this position is that it gives me an opportunity to see how different organizations and regions of the state approach pain management. It has been a challenge in getting all providers on board with appropriate prescribing methods across the state.

We plan to cover the statewide Opiate Action Team guideline changes at the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium, so it will be a great place for providers to expand their knowledge base on opiates and learn that coming into compliance with all the regulatory changes and guidelines is easier than they might think.

BWC is putting on the two-day symposium to focus on current issues bubbling up for the industry.  The two tracks being offered this year are pain and neuromusculoskeletal management, because these two areas have a huge impact on managing care and treating injured workers.

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Free continuing education opportunities
Not only are we bringing leading world, national and state experts together to learn and network with us,  we are providing continuing education opportunities for Ohio’s health-care staff members free of charge.  This is an exceptional value for an outstanding learning opportunity. I encourage Ohio’s providers to take advantage of our symposium.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
TBI treatment and awareness continues to evolve over the years.  Recovery from a TBI may be a slow process.  We need to be careful about the continuum of care and consider possible complications that may arise in the future.

Because of the increased awareness of the impact of TBIs, this is an exciting area of medicine. After lectures on the topic, I always feel like I walk away with new insights. I’m sure that will be the case with our symposium. You don’t want to miss the experts we have coming in to speak.

Read brochure, register today
Check out the brochure and then go to the website to register. We are offering the symposium in conjunction with the 2016 Ohio Safety Congress and Expo at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in downtown Columbus. I look forward to talking with you at the symposium on March 10 – 11.