How OTs Help Injured Parties in Pain Management

The treatment and management of chronic pain is complex. Part of the reason for this complexity is that the pain experience is deeply personal. Simply put, everyone experiences pain differently.

Remarkably, our thoughts and feelings can affect our body’s chemistry and our response to pain. The same can be true for our behaviours (e.g., activity avoidance) and personal stressors (e.g., reduced social support). Our brain uses these inputs to decide whether pain protection is needed. In chronic pain, the areas of the brain that process danger signals become strongly connected and more easily activated. The result is an overprotective pain system.

When our pain system becomes overprotective, we tend to stop doing the movements and activities that are not only important to our daily functioning but that are necessary for recovery. Pain education, however, can change the way we think of pain and reframe negative thoughts, feelings, and actions.  Pain education, in conjunction with other interventions, has become the gold standard for chronic pain management. 

Occupational therapists are well poised to help injured clients learn about their pain. Our inherent focus on the person, environment and occupations, makes us well positioned to teach clients about how pain works, and how to change the way we think of pain in our everyday activities.  The goal is to create a foundation of knowledge. If we understand what triggers a protection response, we can modify our thoughts and behaviours to change this reaction. 

In personal injury litigation, it is important to connect your clients with the right health care professional. Evidence-based practice, rooted in pain science is vital.

As we celebrate OT month, it is a great time to acknowledge the work of occupational therapists and all that they do to advance the study and practice of pain management. 


Toronto Academic Pain Medicine Institute. (n.d.). Pain U Online. Retrieved September 13, 2022, from

University of South Australia. (n.d.). Tame the Beast. Retrieved September 13, 2022, from

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Since 1998 Carol Bierbrier & Associates’ (CBA) primary focus has been life care planning. Their consultants are Certified Life Care Planners from a diverse range of rehabilitative disciplines, and the majority of our consultants have appeared before the court as qualified expert witnesses.