Purpose: This study explored pain assessment measures and interventions used by physical therapists in the treatment of children with neurologic impairment.
Methods: Following extensive literature review on pain assessment and intervention, a survey was developed, pilot tested, and posted on the listserv of the Pediatric Section of the American Physical Therapy Association.
Results: Eighty percent of the respondents used subjective measures to assess pain, 70% used self-report scales, and 41% used behavioral and physiological measures. Behaviors frequently used included vocalizations, facial expression, and irritability. Rarely used cues included decreased attention, withdrawal, and changes in sleeping and eating behaviors. Therapists used research-supported pain interventions such as distraction and praise as well as potentially harmful distress producing measures such as procedural talk and reassurance.
Conclusion: Further research is needed to determine the feasibility of using behavioral pain assessment measures during physical therapy sessions. Physical therapist continuing education regarding nonpharmaceutical pain interventions is indicated.