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Australian-first program offers remote access to multidisciplinary pain management

Photo: Australian Physiotherapy Association
An innovative online physiotherapy program is offering remote access to the full scope of pain management, providing education and skills based training for the management of chronic pain.

“A multidisciplinary pain management program is best evidence practice for the management of chronic pain,” says Australian Physiotherapy Association member Dr Tania Gardener

“Access to face to face programs is limited particularly for rural and remote patients, or patients who are unable to attend due to psychological or physical impairments, family or work commitments,” says Dr Gardener.

“The ‘Reboot Online’ program is the first online multidisciplinary pain management program, adapted and developed from the Department of Pain Medicine’s face to face program Reboot, run at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney.”
Reboot Online uses an animated story, following one chronic pain patient (Martha's) journey as she learns about chronic pain and the tools and strategies to manage it.

The program has 8 lessons which cover all modules of a typical pain management program, such as what is chronic pain, pacing, goal setting, cognitive behavioural therapy and acceptance.

There are also homework tasks that help to consolidate learning and gain confidence in skills.

“What sets Reboot Online apart, is the movement station, which has 41 exercise videos and a tai chi video to help guide patients with movement. There is also a relaxation station and expert videos from the range of disciplines involved in the management of chronic pain,” Dr Gardener says.

The program was developed following years of telehealth consultations conducted by the team at the Department of Pain Medicine, treating patients from rural and remote areas, in particular the southern NSW LHD.

“Although the telehealth service does provide specialist consultations with the pain specialists, psychologist and physiotherapist for chronic pain patients, we identified the lack of ongoing support and guidance in the local primary care setting. There was a lack of clinicians able to provide the specialist approach that is required for chronic pain.

“A collaboration with CRUfAD (Centre of Research for Anxiety and Depression), St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, was initiated in December 2013.

“CRUfAD have been successful in developing many online programs for mental health disorders and joined us in developing a chronic pain program using their model.

At St Vincent’s Hospital, the Reboot online program as used as an adjunct to its telehealth consults, checking in with patients every few weeks and discussing the lesson content, issues the patient may have, problem solving and coaching them as they learn the skills and gain confidence in self-management.

“We also use the online format for those unable to attend our face to face programs, allowing our consultation time to be used for consolidation and monitoring of progress.”

Patients complete the 8 lesson program online, over a 16 week period, with lessons released at two week intervals to allow the patient to learn the material and practice skills adequately, discouraging those who want to quickly complete the program without processing the content.

The Reboot online program is ideal for any patient who has chronic non cancer pain who wants to learn about self-management of chronic pain and is unable to attend a face to face program.

“Early intervention is always best,” says Dr Gardener.

“Physiotherapists are in a great position to educate and coach patients in the strategies used in self-management of their chronic pain.”


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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications ( and a children's author.