The Joy of the Multidisciplinary team

Often in the world of rehabilitation work, different professionals work independently with a client, each working on their own set of goals, and you might meet at a multidisciplinary team meeting (if you’re lucky!).

One of the things we think is special about Retraining Pain is, as well as having a range of professional backgrounds, the ‘multidisciplinary’, we are big on working in an interdisciplinary way.  We usually assess and conceptualise an individual’s persistent pain puzzle as a team, so right from the start of the rehabilitation journey we have a shared set of goals with our clients.  We constantly build on eachother’s expertise to ensure that our skill set is always diverse and up to date. 

How do the physical, psychological and social overlap in practice?

Perhaps you have a client who is suffering with a long term pain condition after an accident, injury or illness.  (If you’ve read any of our other blogposts you will know that we believe all pain is real and we always need to consider the biological, psychological and social components.)  The client may be

  • Anxious and fear avoidant about moving part of their body
  • Having flashbacks from a traumatic incident keeping their system in ‘high alert’
  • Getting baffling messages from health professionals about prognosis, ‘learning to live with the pain’, or feeling hopeless about their future with pain
  • Feeling de-motivated to engage with physiotherapy because of low mood, depression, feelings of low self worth or symptoms of trauma

Fans of pain neuroscience will understand that these psychological ‘dangers’ are going to increase that person’s perception of pain.  

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

We all have our unique perspectives

In an interdisciplinary team, we all have our own unique professional perspectives.  The pain specialist physiotherapist is likely to be assessing an individual’s understanding of their persistent pain and offering bite size education.  Undoubtably they will be helping strengthen and repair deconditioning and improve confidence to move.  Clinical Psychologists will be looking at belief systems, readiness to change, and assessing risk of self harm, and helping clients to learn a new set of strategies to cope with distress.  Screening for trauma symptoms is also imperative and needs to be done by an experience clinician.  Occupational therapists offer their vital input, helping achieve independence through changing behaviours or using adaptations.  We often consult with medical colleagues too, to share perspectives and help plan rehabilitation.

Consistency and room for debate

We usually start by assessing a client from an interdisiciplinary perspective.  Rather than them telling their story several times, we have at least two health professionals assessing at once.  By the end of that meeting, we have a clear biopsychosocial formulation, where we have pieced together the jigsaw of their persistent pain puzzle, we have goals for treatment from physical, psychological and social perspectives, and we can converse as a team every step of the way to ensure that client’s rehabilitation is effective, safe and…..even enjoyable??!!  Our consistency is key.

Timing is everything

As we – and probably you – have seen, timing is everything.  Sometimes offering rehabilitation piecemeal – one professional at a time – leaves the client without the right set of skills to move forwards.  A good team is like a finely tuned orchestra – always following a shared plan but each playing their own melody.

Saving case managers time and money and getting the best outcomes for our clients

It can be hard to put together a team of professionals with the right skills to assess and treat someone with persistent pain.  Let us do the legwork for you!  We have a ready made team of highly experienced, HCPC registered pain specialist physiotherapists, clinical psychologists and occupational therapists ready to help you build your team.  Say hello at [email protected]