Research on chronic pain in teens

Firestone named Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar

Kari Firestone, associate professor of nursing and associate dean of the WWU School of Nursing, is one of 200 nurses from across the country to be named as a 2014-2016 Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar, a program that supports doctoral nursing students. With the award, Firestone is pursuing a doctor of philosophy degree from Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Ore.; is receiving leadership training; and has participated in nursing leadership activities in Washington and Oregon.

Firestone’s clinical and academic interests center on advancing health for children and families, with particular focus on enhancing quality of life through management of chronic illness, symptoms, and pain. Her doctoral research, which is now in the dissertation stage, examines the use of low-intensity exercise focused on strength, balance, and flexibility for pain-management in adolescents experiencing chronic, widespread pain.

“One of the biggest areas of interest to me was how much kids who experience chronic pain do not participate in the ‘work’ of childhood—playing with other kids, participating in school and sports, etc.,” says Firestone. “There has been a lot of research in adult populations using various forms of exercise for the deleterious effects of chronic pain, but scant evidence in children. Thus, I decided to focus on the effect of exercise in teens with chronic pain on their functional abilities. Thus far, my preliminary study results appear positive in improving the overall well-being of these teens.”

Firestone presented her research last October in Washington, D.C., at a national conference on the future of nursing. “As a Jonas Scholar, I’ve learned that my voice really matters,” says Firestone. “Not just at a legislative level, but even more so in the classroom in shaping the future nursing workforce, teaching them how to care for the future needs of patients whilst providing compassionate, competent nursing care.”

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Posted Jan. 4, 2016

Kari Firestone's research examines the use of low-intensity exercise for pain management in adolescents experiencing chronic, widespread pain.