The West

$1m  fund to defeat hidden agony
Help for others: Moira and Geoff Churack. Picture: Lee Griffith/The West Australian

Geoff Churack knows the frustration of living with pain every day after doing the rounds of doctors to try to get relief from the crippling ache in his leg.

The 74-year-old Perth businessman blames sports injuries in his younger days and unsuccessful back surgery for his chronic neuropathic pain, a condition diagnosed more than five years ago, which has had a devastating effect on his life.

The Rossmoyne grandfather of six relies on a walking stick to get around his home and wears a splint to bed so he can sleep.

Even pain-relieving pills can do only so much. "I'm in constant pain and it's getting worse but people can't see it, it's invisible," Mr Churack said.

"Sufferers often feel they aren't taken seriously and I've come to realise that GPs and other doctors don't know a lot about chronic pain, mainly because it is not an essential part of their training."

Instead of feeling defeated, Mr Churack and his wife Moira want to help change how this type of ongoing pain is managed in the hope it could bring relief to some of the 3.5 million Australians with it.

They are donating $1 million to an Australian-first project which will fund research at Murdoch University and set up specific training in chronic pain management as part of the curriculum at Notre Dame University's medical school.

The Churack chair of chronic pain education and research, which is being launched today with the endorsement of the Australian Medical Association, will fund an internationally recognised pain specialist to help prepare future doctors to deal with chronic pain.

The Churacks hope other corporate and private donors will help raise another $2 million so the training can become a core part of the medical degree.

Notre Dame vice-chancellor Celia Hammond said it would help medical students understand how to manage pain, including the use of drugs and their side effects.

Students in other disciplines such as nursing, physiotherapy and counselling would also benefit.

The university's Fremantle school of medicine dean Gavin Frost said chronic pain cost Australia more than $34 billion a year in lost productivity and health care.

For more details, call 9433 0860.

The West Australian

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