Reflections of Healing Narratives

Reflections of Healing Narratives

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9051-5.ch010
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This narrative discusses research illustrating how writing assists patients in healing from both emotional and physical pain. An English professor and physical therapist collaborated to design a survey that uses writing prompts to assess goal setting for physical therapy patients. Advice for patients, such as keeping a pain journal of symptoms to share with a medical professional, demonstrates how writing helps the healing process while leading to collaboration between a patient and the medical team.
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The Importance Of Writing While In Pain

My physical therapist, Dr. Eric Wanner, always took the time to answer my endless questions about why my neck felt a certain way and what exercises I could do to make it feel better. He also would not let me get away with telling him I felt fine when I didn’t. It helped him plan my exercises and treatment if I assigned my pain level a number at the beginning of each session and gave some examples of what I did between sessions to make the pain feel better or worse.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Expressive Writing: Writing that is exploratory and focuses on meaning and first impressions.

Artistic and Technical Writing: Artistic writing focuses on the writer’s tone of word choice, also known as voice, while technical writing focuses on the writer’s specificity of word choice. English teachers design rubrics that incorporate both artistic and technical writing.

Writing as Healing: Numerous studies have been conducted investigating the influence of writing on physical and emotional health. James Pennebaker is a leader in the field which explores the health benefits of writing.

Neck Pain Journal: Jen created a journal of what she was doing when her neck felt pain. Eric read the journal and adjusted Jen’s treatment plan to make her neck feel better.

Wanner-Bird Healing Survey for Pain Recovery: An original survey designed by Dr. Eric Wanner and Dr. Jennifer Bird. This survey features both numerical subjective questions, where patients are asked to respond to statements by circling a number from 1-5, and written subjective questions that score patients’ written responses on a rubric with a score of 1, 3, or 5. The rubric incorporates both the technical and artistic dimensions of writing.

Physical Therapy Outcome Measures: Tests used by physical therapists to measure the progress a patient makes, such as such as the DASH (Disabilities of the Arm Shoulder Hand), LEFS (Lower Extremity Functional Scale), NDI (Neck Disability Index), and Modified Oswestry (for back pain). Physical therapists choose which outcome measure to use based on the body part where the patient experiences pain.

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