Chronic Pain

When your child suffers from pain that interferes with day-to-day activities, it can be tough. Persistent, chronic pain affects your child’s quality of life. We know it affects you, too.

Research shows about 30% of children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 18 experience pain that lasts three months or longer. It can prevent your child from attending school, playing sports and simply enjoying life.

Mary Free Bed’s multidisciplinary team of pain rehabilitation specialists understands the complexities of chronic pain, including the physical and emotional toll it can take. We’ll work with you and your child on a personalized plan that incorporates a variety of innovative treatments to address the pain.

We know how to help kids be kids.

Pediatric pain patient in outpatient therapy

What’s Chronic Pain?

Unlike acute pain, which typically occurs with an injury, illness or medical procedure, chronic pain is more complex and often has debilitating effects.

It’s persistent and recurrent. And it doesn’t always have a physical source. Sometimes it’s associated with a long-term illness or condition, or it continues after an injury has healed. Changes to the nervous system also may cause persistent pain. And sometimes the cause isn’t clear.

Common types of chronic pain include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chronic pain because of injury or medical procedure
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Musculoskeletal pain


Who We Serve

We treat children and adolescents up to 19 years of age who have varying degrees of chronic pain and other conditions.

We can help your child manage:

  • Pain that’s lasted beyond the expected healing process after an injury or illness.
  • Pain that hasn’t responded to treatment.
  • Pain that’s led to a decline in function, such as frequent absences or an inability to return to work or school, or difficulty performing daily activities.
  • Depression or anxiety related to pain.
  • Increased or overuse of medications.
  • Pain that’s diminished your child’s quality of life.


We treat patients with a variety of medical diagnoses, pain locations and symptoms, such as:

  • Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome (fibromyalgia)
  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Chronic headaches or migraines
  • Chronic pain because of injury or surgery
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)


Frequently associated problems include:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Functional neurological disorder
  • Hypermobility/Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)
  • Physical deconditioning
  • Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression


How We Help

Our primary goal is improving the physical and emotional wellbeing of your child.

We want to help them attend and succeed in school, and participate in sports or other recreational activities. We’ll work together to:

  • Identify and address stressors that contribute to the pain and maladaptive functioning.
  • Prepare you and your child to better manage disabling symptoms long after graduation from the program.


Our goal isn’t to take your child’s pain away. While we’d love to, it’s not always possible. However, we can often help decrease your child’s pain, or at least perception of it. And sometimes chronic pain conditions completely resolve on their own.


What to Expect

Our focus is on helping your child return to normal activities – attending school, hanging out with friends and taking part in sports and other activities that bring joy.

We’ll assess potential causes for your child’s pain, work with both of you to develop goals and decide the best course of treatment to reach them.

If all physical possibilities are ruled out, we’ll look at how your child perceives the pain and teach ways to manage it. As functioning, coping skills and confidence improve, pain and distress often decrease or go away.

We use a mind-and-body rehabilitation approach that includes physical conditioning, body mechanics training and pain management skills. Our approach is challenging but supportive:

  • We’ll discuss your child’s individual goals and develop a rehabilitation plan to improve strength, stamina, emotional health and independence.
  • You’ll learn techniques to reduce your child’s pain and restore function.
  • We’ll share comprehensive strategies to cope with any remaining pain and how to manage flareups.


We’ll modify our program to meet your child’s needs, but it will typically consist of:

  • 10 weeks of treatment
  • Two to three appointments each week that, depending on your child’s needs, may include physical therapy, occupational therapy and psychology.


Your child’s physiatrist (a doctor who specializes in rehabilitation medicine) will perform an examination and assess your child’s health history. The doctor will help you understand your child’s pain and other symptoms. You’ll work collaboratively with your child’s physician to reduce or eliminate medications proven to be ineffective.

Pain psychology

Physical and emotional health are closely linked, and psychology plays a significant role in managing chronic pain management. Our pain psychologist employs a personalized approach that may include:

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which teaches your child how to manage difficult physical sensations, thoughts and emotions while working to increase participation in things that are important.
  • Relaxation training.
  • Mindfulness.
  • Biofeedback technology, which helps us monitor physical signs of stress and tension so your child can learn to practice relaxation skills.
  • Discussing issues, such as stress, depression, anxiety, sleep problems and the social impact of pain on your child’s relationships.
  • Helping you understand your child’s chronic pain condition and how to encourage and reinforce functional behaviors.


Physical therapy

Our physical therapists will help you understand the difference between acute and chronic pain. They know when to encourage your child to do more and when to recommend that you pace your child’s activity. You’ll learn stretching techniques, posture corrections and other ways to manage your child’s pain and improve function by moving.

Occupational therapy

Your child will learn proper posturing and body mechanics needed for school, and how to protect joints, conserve energy and pace activities for pain management. A structured movement program will help your child re-engage in interests and hobbies.


Treatment outcomes

We closely monitor your child’s progress using a variety of outcome measures to assess the program’s success.

Data shows patients who participated in the program reported:

  • Less interference in daily activities.
  • Increased physical functioning and participation in athletic and other recreational activities.
  • Less anxiety regarding their pain.
  • More adaptive approaches to dealing with pain.

Your Team

We understand the complexities of pain. Our clinicians have specialized training and extensive experience to put your child on the path to a full and productive life.

We can help safely reduce or eliminate your child’s reliance on medication and re-engage in things that are meaningful.

Your child will be cared for by doctors who specialize in the treatment of physical and cognitive issues and are experts on pediatric chronic pain disorders.

Dr. Douglas Henry

Douglas Henry, M.D.

  • Triple board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, pediatrics and pediatric rehabilitation medicine
  • Graduate of Wayne State University School of Medicine; combined residency in pediatrics and PM&R at Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the Detroit Medical Center Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, respectively
  • Joined Mary Free Bed in 2019
Dr Victoria Dufour

Victoria Dufour, D.O.

  • Earned her medical degree at Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed a residency in PM&R at Case Western Reserve University – MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland
  • Completed a fellowship in pediatric rehabilitation medicine at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital – Harvard Medical School in Boston
  • On staff since October 2020
Dr. Krissa Kirby

Krissa Kirby, Psy.D.

  • Completed her doctorate in Psychology at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, a pre-doctoral internship at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City and a post-doctoral residency at Health & Pediatric Psychology Associates in Bonita Springs, Florida
  • Joined Mary Free Bed in 2018

Depending on your child’s needs, the team also may include:

  • Occupational therapist
  • Physical therapist
  • Recreational therapists
  • Registered dietitian

Each week, our team meets to discuss your child’s progress and make any necessary adjustments to the care plan. Your child’s wellness is our focus.

Contact Us

The Mary Free Bed Kids Chronic Pain Program was established by The Steve and Amy Van Andel Foundation.

The next step on your path to recovery.

Need Rehabilitation? Ask for Mary.
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