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Stephen Paley

“The pain was so bad, I could barely sit down,” says Stephen Paley on the worsening back pain caused by the peripheral neuropathy that he had been suffering from for about eight years.

“It’s a difficult way to live a life. This was constant, all waking hours. My wife and I started to become isolated and missed out on a lot of interaction with other people. The inability to sit knocked out a lot—movies, dinners out, and going to a show,” says Paley, a retired physicist and Florida resident.

Desperate for some relief, Paley had tried everything. After meeting with a number of physicians in Florida, a friend recommended the New England Baptist Hospital Spine Center.

“I traveled from Florida to Boston because I had nothing else to lose. I had been through just about every treatment method that is offered. What drew me to the program initially, and what I like very much as a physicist, is that the New England Baptist program is research-based.”

After a long and uncomfortable flight, Paley landed in Boston and met with Chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Dr. James Rainville. After reviewing medical records, doing an exam, and reviewing a recent MRI of Paley’s lower back, Dr. Rainville recommended the internationally recognized Spine Rehabilitation Program, often referred to as “Boot Camp.” The exercise program, developed from years of research, focuses on restoring spine motion and strength while lowering the perceived level of pain.

“It was freeing the first time I met with Dr. Rainville. The approach was totally different than other places I had gone for treatment. One of the things that happens with back pain is you’re afraid you’ll make the condition worse by just going through the normal motions of daily living. Once I learned that this would not be the case, I was no longer afraid.”

The program typically runs four to eight weeks, but Paley worked with Lisa Childs, a physical therapist in the NEBH Spine Center, to do an accelerated two week program in Boston and was then given instructions to continue the exercises once he returned to Florida.

“Once I began the program, I saw results almost immediately in terms of being able to sit. We had friends in Boston that I hadn’t seen in quite a while, and here I was sitting in restaurants with them and talking with not nearly the level of pain I had become used to.”

Paley is now back at home, sticking to his prescribed exercise routine.

“You’ve got to achieve the right mental attitude to challenge the pain on a continuing basis. One is taught not to shrink from it but face up to it and challenge it. It’s not that you suddenly feel no pain but a major benefit of the program is that your perceived level of pain is reduced. I am just happy being able to do the usual things people do on a daily basis, and the motions that go along with them. Something drops on the floor you bend down to pick it up. You need to clean up a spill, you don’t even think about it.”

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