The University of South Australia (UniSA) has received funding to research one of the world’s most leading causes of disability, chronic musculoskeletal pain.
UniSA Physiotherapist and top-ranked Chronic Pain Scientist, Professor Lorimer Moseley, will lead a five-year international project from next year thanks to a $2.4 million Investigator Grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Leading an international team, Professor Moseley will research the biological and cognitive processes involved in pain and how the brain can be trained to relieve suffering, as well as trialling innovative and experimental approaches.
“Chronic pain is a huge burden to society,” Professor Moseley explains.
“We have done enough research to know that pain doesn’t necessarily reflect damage to tissues, it’s more about how the brain is using it as a tool to protect the body.”
He says it is now understood that the body doesn’t have pain sensors, but it does have ‘danger’ sensors, known as nociceptors, nerve endings that respond to changes in their environment, such as something touching the skin which sends signals to the brain.
Professor Moseley explains, “The brain is able to produce this unpleasant feeling in just one location, so you know that you need to protect just that area.
“When you think about it in this way, pain is a sophisticated development in evolution.
“The goal is to work alongside community, Government and professional bodies to transform clinical practice so that Australians can receive the best care and management of chronic pain.”
The project forms part of a $400,000 million investment in health and medical research announced by the Federal Government.