Whitney Oldenburg: Summer at the PRC
Hello! This summer I am implementing an art research project at the Mayo Clinic Pain Rehabilitation Center (PRC) in Jacksonville, Florida. Initially started over thirty years ago at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, the PRC was one of the first programs to help people with chronic pain. These patients suffer from long-term, pain- inducing diseases that may not improve over time. In most cases, these patients will not benefit from surgical or medicinal treatments and are at risk for developing addiction to pain medication. Thus, a primary goal of the program is to help patients cope with pain through alternative care.
This March, the program doubled in size and while the new center is being renovated, fifteen patients will be treated in one area, while an additional fifteen patients will be treated in a separate area. Under the supervision of both the Program Coordinator of the Center of Humanities in Medicine and a Mayo researcher, I plan on implementing critical art engagement in the experimental group and having no art engagement in the control group. I will compare the experimental group’s physical and mental functioning with the group of patients not exposed to art making. Over the three week treatment period, the following improvement indictors will be measured for each individual: the increase and decrease use of pain medication, patient satisfaction, the change in depressive symptoms, the change in aerobic activities, pain severity, and perception and control of pain, etc. I will do this test three times for a nine-week project time span. I hope my pilot study will contribute to an overall understanding of how art can aid in patient rehabilitation and improve overall health. I am also interested in the integration of visual art with medicine, and I hope my project will show how each field can influence each other.