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Founding of the German Paediatric Pain Centre

Datteln, 16 January 2012. More than 350,000 children and adolescents in Germany suffer from chronic pain. The consequences of this quiet epidemic for those affected are dire – individual suffering and massive school absence threaten affected children. The German Children’s Pain Center in the Vestische Children’s and Adolescents’ Clinic Datteln – University Witten/Herdecke was founded on 16 January, 2012. Here, children, adolescents and their families find help on the way back to a pain-free life.

Picture of Dr. Zernikow and former patients
Former patients with Professor Boris Zernikow at the inaugural celebration

The number of children and adolescents who are affected by chronic pain is constantly increasing. This is largely unnoticed by the public, for no one can see children’s pain. But more and more children in Germany complain of chronic head, abdominal and back pain resulting in individual suffering and massive school absence. The German Paediatric Pain Centre wants to pose a counterpoint here. The German Paediatric Pain Centre in the Vestische Children’s and Adolescents’ Clinic, Children’s Clinic of the University of Witten/Herdecke was founded on 16 January, 2012. As a reference centre, it will provide therapy, research and work to publicize and improve the situation of children and adolescents with chronic pain.

Picture of Dr. Zernikow during the “Place in the Land of Ideas” award
Professor B. Zernikow, Sven Olderdissen (Deutsche Bank) and Ariane Derks (Land der Ideen) during the award ceremony (from left to right)

The German Paediatric Pain Centre is built on extensive experience in the treatment of children and adolescents with pain conditions: For years, Datteln has been home to a unique children’s pain ward and an outpatient children’s pain clinic. As recognition of the successful and forward-looking work of the department of children’s pain therapy, Federal President Christian Wulff conferred the distinction of “Place in the Land of Ideas 2011” on the people of Datteln. Expertise in therapy and research will now be focused in the newly founded German Paediatric Pain Centre in order to forge ahead with the subject of treating children’s and adolescents’ chronic pain and to optimize care – locally, regionally and country-wide.

Dr. Boris Zernikow
Professor Boris Zernikow

“It is a big concern for us to help children and adolescents get their chronic pain under control so they can live their lives as they choose”,  Dr.Boris Zernikow, the initiator of the German Paediatric Pain Centre, explains. He can count on the support of many politically influential organizations in the establishment of the project.

Marlene Rupprecht, SPD and Nicole Bracht-Bendt, FDP (from left to right)

“Children are our future. They deserve our support on the way to living their lives independently,” say the members of the German Parliament’s Children’s Commission. “Initiatives like the German Paediatric Pain Centre are therefore of great relevance”, Commission Chair Nicole Bracht-Bendt (FDP) confirms at the ceremony of the founding of the Centre.

Dr. Gerhard Nordmann
Dr. Gerhard Nordmann, Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Westphalia-Lippe

“A centre for the care of children and adolescents with chronic pain signals new initiatives in society and improves the care of this important and vulnerable target group”, Dr. Theodor Windhorst, President of the Association of Doctors of Westphalia-Lippe, said of the project. Professional and high-quality care of young pain patients is also welcomed by The Medical Association of Westphalia-Lippe (KVWL). “Close cooperation between family doctors and specialists as well as integration with clinics will significantly improve the treatment of little patients. And the whole outpatient care system will profit from the future research results of this establishment,” said Dr. Gerhard Nordmann, 2nd KVWL Chair.

Dr. Ingrid Spohr
Dr. Ingrid Spohr, Munipharma Ltd.

Besides the care of children and adolescents with pain conditions, a focus of the German Paediatric Pain Centre will be the research and safeguarding of the quality of therapy. Prescribing well-suited and effective medication still poses a great challenge to many doctors. “The German Paediatric Pain Centre can provide a decisive contribution towards needs-based therapy, the dissemination of specialist knowledge and impetus in research”, Dr. Ingrid Spohr, Manager, Medicine Department, Mundipharma Inc., stressed during the inaugural celebration of the centre.

Prof. Dr. Boris Zernikow attributes great significance to the research ties to the university. Great progress was already made with the establishment of the Chair in Children’s Pain Therapy and Pediatric Palliative Medicine at the University of Witten/Herdecke in 2008. “The creation of the German Paediatric Pain Centre as “Lighthouse project” will have significant ongoing ripple effects and intensify research activity in children’s pain therapy,” Prof. Dr. Martin Butzlaff, President of the University of Witten/Herdecke, is certain.  According to the opinion of Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Koppert, President of the German Pain Society, “Especially the research into childhood pain is clearly underrepresented worldwide.” He expressed his expectations of the German Paediatric Pain Centre clearly: “With the German Paediatric Pain Centre, an institution is created that has the potential to answer important research questions comprehensively.”

Ulrich Adler
Ulrich Adler, Techniker Krankenkasse

The founding of the German Paediatric Pain Centre is also welcomed by its sponsors. “Severe chronic pain is a societal problem,” confirms Ulrich Adler of the Technical Medical Insurance Company, adding, “Children with pain conditions often become adults with pain conditions. Early and effective therapy measures can not only reduce personal suffering, but are also a precondition for the education and future of children and adolescents: Only those whose lives are not marked by pain can lead a normal daily life, develop in an age-appropriate way, go to school, choose a career and be an active member of society.”

Text and Contact: Ann-Kristin Ruhe, German Paediatric Pain Centre

Photos: Manfred Rimkus

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