Innovative kids' pain clinic opens in Twin Cities

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota in so many ways is ahead of the game.

On Thursday, the grand opening came for just another one of those; the largest pain/palliative/integrative medicine clinic for children in North America is in the Minneapolis Children's Hospital.

The ten thousand square foot clinic was made possible by donations, the most sizeable, coming from the late Aveda founder, Horst Rechelbacher.

He and his wife gave 1.5 million to the 2 million dollar project, so the clinic, is in their name.

But what it is, is, integrative medicine.

Integrative medicine marries western meds with east to ease chronic pain that affects 8 million children in this country annually.

"What makes the pain go away is physical therapy, rehabilitation, and teaching them active integrative non-pharma modalities and with those we pretty much get all kids pain free," Dr. Stefan Friedrichstorf, the medical director of the clinic, said of its the mission.

The clinic houses a massage and acupuncture room, and floor to ceiling it is covered with sensory soothing photos of Minnesota native plants and trees, ambient sounds of loons and wildlife kiss the air.

The floors are made from local wood and are designed to absorb noise to take away the anxiety sounds of bustling feet; always keeping in mind that this is to be a soothing space for children with chronic pain or who are getting end of life palliative care.

Nearly two years ago Caroline Marshall broke her left foot jumping on a trampoline but after the bone healed, the real pain started.

"She was not sleeping at night, she was crying, she was staying home from school because she's couldn't walk or get around," Caroline's mother, Sarah said.

Caroline spent months missing school and in horrific pain.

Her mom found the pain clinic, in its much smaller old location and finally she said had some home.

Caroline had what is called complex regional pain syndrome; Dr. Friedrichstorf says that is pain that is ten on a ten scale.

He said they designed a treatment that she responded to over time; physical therapy, working closely with a pain psychologist (because physical pain directly linked to fear and anxiety which makes the pain worse) and some non-pharmaceutical meds.

Within months, Caroline was nearly pain free.

The clinic sees about two thousand visits a year, but in this new space, hopes to double that.


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