New Equipment Treats Patients With Chronic Pain



Barry and Lynn Cressman


A grant to purchase a hightech medical apparatus has given relief to a local man whose mobility has been limited.  The Northwest Hospital Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization that supports UPMC Northwest, provided a $22,900 grant to buy a Boston Scientific Cosman G-4 Radiofrequency Generator. It is used as a tool for radio frequency ablation (RFA) procedures.

Barry Cressman, of Titusville, suffering from chronic back and knee pain, was steered to the new technology used by Dr. Kyle Shilk at UPMC Northwest. He asked the physician to perform radiofrequency ablation on his right knee.  The procedure completely relieved the pain, allowing Cressman to resume a normal, busy, pain-free life, including a much anticipated return to the golf course. “He can now enjoy playing with his grandchildren, navigating steps and stairs, and planning trips for both business and pleasure with his life no longer restricted by chronic back and knee pain,” said Theresa Edder, executive director of the foundation.

Edder said the the procedure uses an electrical current produced by a radio wave to heat a small area of nerve tissue. That decreases pain signals from a specific location. It helps patients with chronic lower back and neck pain, and pain related to the degeneration of joints from arthritis. The pain relief can last from six to 12 months or, for some patients, years.

“More than 70% of patients treated with it experience pain relief, an important measure for UPMC Northwest, which last year recorded a 136 percent increase in patients seeking pain relief,” said the foundation director. “Most important, it can be used for chronic pain that does not respond to other treatments, such as medication and routine physical therapy.”

The new technology has allowed Shilk to enhance his integrative pain management model, which includes specialties such as advanced physical therapy, chiropractic and acupuncture treatments, dietary regimens and psychological counseling. “Pain is not just about nerves or receptors — pain is emotional, physical, mental and social, all at once,” he said. “I want to take a ‘whole person’ approach to patients, and team approach with physicians in the community.”

Cressman wants others who are seeking pain relief to inquire about the new treatment. “I am so grateful that UPMC Northwest now has this equipment. It has made all the difference for me. As of now, I have had no reoccurrence.” said Cressman. “I want to share my experience to help others that might need pain relief, as well as let the Foundation know their money was well invested.





New Hospital Transportation Driving Away Kids’ Fears

Dr. Bawab and Evan Ward


UPMC Northwest Hospital is putting some of its smallest patients in the driver’s seat. Pediatric patients can now drive themselves to the operating room in miniature battery-powered cars. Most kids are stressed when it comes to operations and procedures, so the operating room staff came up with an innovative way to help calm their fears.

Patients are riding to the operating room in style thanks to an anonymous donation to the Northwest Hospital Foundation. Kids ranging from ages 2 to 10 can choose from a Jeep or Mercedes-Benz convertible. The cars light up, and they can play music with Bluetooth technology. The vehicles can be operated by the kids or by a nurse or doctor with a remote controller.

Since the cars were put in use almost a month ago, the driving experience is already working its magic. Children such as Evan Ward, son of Michael and Amanda Ward of Franklin, PA, are feeling less anxious about their upcoming procedures.

“Evan had a wonderful surgical experience at UPMC Northwest. The staff was diligent and very attentive to him when he arrived. Once he was settled in, the time quickly passed as he was given the opportunity to drive the new electric cars that they are utilizing for their pediatric patients. Instead of being apprehensive about the unfamiliar environment he was in, he was calm, laughing, and he enjoyed driving around the hallway where everyone greeted him. We are so thankful that Evan will remember his surgery day as a positive and fun experience,” said the Wards.

The program makes the staff and surgeon’s jobs easier, too. It puts their minds at ease to know the kids are happier, relaxed and having fun.

According to Dr. Ibrahim Bawab, Head of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at UPMC Northwest: “Surgery day can be stressful for almost everyone and especially for kids. As a surgeon who also manages the pediatric population, I’ve witnessed the anxiety and agitation firsthand, mostly when the kids are being separated from their parents and wheeled to the operating room.

“Luckily, now with the new cars at UPMC Northwest, the kids can be more at ease, they can ride the miniature cars, and head toward the operating room in style. This will certainly help decrease anxiety and create an overall environment of fun and playfulness,” said Dr. Bawab.


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