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What our Physical and Occupational Therapists do
to Help You, the Patient, Manage your Pain

Susan Rand Celico, PT


During your first appointment at the Donley Center, your physical and/or occupational therapist will meet with you for about one hour. In this first meeting, your therapist will want to know all about your pain and symptoms. They may have you fill out several questionnaires concerning your pain. In particular, the therapist will want to hear about how the pain affects your activity level, and what activities you most miss doing.

Following this, the therapist will request that you try certain activities, to observe how your pain responds. They will ask you to move your trunk and limbs to see how much the pain gets in your way. The physical and/or occupational therapist will notice if pain prevents you from gathering muscle strength. Your therapist will check your reflexes and sensation to monitor how well your nerves are conducting information.

After the interview and physical testing, your physical therapist (PT) or occupational therapist (OT) will discuss all of their findings with you and describe the treatment plan that they recommend. There are several topics that they will discuss with nearly every person affected by chronic pain, which they will tailor to fit your individual situation.

Sleep: the therapists are very sensitive to the difficulties that patients with constant pain have with sleeping. They understand how lack of sleep exhausts the body and mind. Your therapist will offer you tools to practice that are designed to help you sleep better.
2. Nutrition: your PT or OT will discuss with you how particular substances can reduce your ability to cope with pain.
Tension: your therapist understands how excessive tension can increase your level of physical pain. They will teach you methods to relax your mind and body. The therapist understands that in order for your body to perform exercise, movement and work, it requires deep relaxation.

Movement: the physical and occupational therapists are keen observers of the human body in motion. They realize that pain often interferes with flowing, supple movement and understand that conscious effort to correct this is usually not effective. They work on identifying your body’s own innate abilities to move with ease, wanting you to become familiar with your own bodily patterns and make yourself the expert in correction.

5. Goal-setting and pacing: the PT or OT will help you establish reasonable goals and set up a step-by-step plan so that you can feel the rewarding sense of accomplishment when you achieve those goals.

Perhaps most importantly, all Donley Center patients work with the same therapy team from the beginning to the conclusion of their program. Your team knows your individual situation, tailors the program to meet your needs, and serves to help keep your motivation up when you feel discouraged.


RI Department of Labor and Training
Dr. John E. Donley Rehabilitation Center
249 Blackstone Boulevard, Providence, RI 02906

Phone: (401) 243-1200
Fax (401) 222-3887
TTY via RI Relay: 711
5/16/17 MDF
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  DLT is an equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aids and services available upon request