Eat Chat Parent discussion to focus on coping with physical pain

Battle Mountain's Delaney Gersbach threads the needle against Aspen earlier this month in Edwards. Wednesday’s virtual Eat Chat Parent discussion aims to improve participants’ understanding of pain and provide strategies to help parents and children understand, manage, and express pain.
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Pain can take a toll not just physically but also emotionally and mentally. Understanding pain and learning how to effectively express and cope with it can help manage and reduce pain, especially for children, allowing for a faster return to sports, play and regular activity.

“As parents, your own language and coping strategies for dealing with pain create a foundation for your child’s relationship with pain,” said Dr. Harlan Austin, the new sports psychologist at Vail Health’s Howard Head Sports Medicine. “Here in the valley, we have so many kids that are in sports and living very active lifestyles and experiencing an injury during those activities is really common. Our goal is to help parents and their children understand the connection between the body and mind and educate family members to help them recognize when and how pain might show up in their children’s lives.”

On Wednesday, Austin will join Howard Head Sports Medicine physical therapists Brittney Huntimer and Kristin Thomas in a panel presentation for the March virtual Eat Chat Parent focusing on “Pain: Influencing our Thoughts and Behaviors.” The event is presented by Mountain Youth and Vail Health’s Eagle Valley Behavioral Health.

The presentation aims to improve participants’ understanding of pain and provide strategies to help parents and children understand, manage, and express pain. Thomas, who specializes in pediatric physical therapy, emphasizes that pain is a normal part of life and that movement is a vital part of managing it.

“Kids experience pain differently than adults. It is a learned response that can be partly influenced by a parent’s reaction to their situation,” Thomas said. “Keeping your reaction neutral, asking open-ended questions, and encouraging your child to return to the activity (if appropriate) they were participating in when the incident occurred are all ways to help mediate the pain response and decrease the intensity of pain.”

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Pain is complex and is influenced by many factors, including emotions, thoughts and the environment. It is interpreted in the brain based on the input from the body and is not one physical symptom.

“During the March Eat Chat Parent, we will provide real-life examples of instances where pain might be associated with a situation and the emotional and mental impact that can have on future experiences,” Huntimer said. “Because of COVID-19, these past 12 months have been stressful for adults and children to navigate, and that stress combined with other social factors can contribute to pain in different ways.”

“By understanding the concept of pain, we can help mitigate the issue and create lifelong strategies for children to cope with pain,” Austin said.

Eat Chat Parent

When: Wednesday, March 31, 6-7:30 p.m.

Admission: Free Zoom virtual meeting

For Spanish speakers: Live caption spanish interpretation available

Ages: Children age 10 and older are welcome to join with an adult

Register: Visit to sign up

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