When high school senior Kelsey Goodwin of Delran, N.J. sprained her foot playing soccer, an orthopedist put her leg into a boot, predicting a 30-day recovery. But when the boot came off, showing a mottled purple leg too painful to be touched, a neurologist diagnosed reflex neurovascular dystrophy or RND.
RND develops when an injury doesn’t heal properly and the nervous system malfunctions – its signals going haywire. The result is prolonged and excessive pain, with diminished strength and function.
Despite nerve blocks and outpatient physical therapy, the burning pain spread up Kelsey’s entire right side. And it kept getting worse. “It was frustrating,” says the normally cheerful teen, who has been class president for six years. “I couldn’t keep up with friends or go out. If the wind brushed by me, it caused excruciating pain. I was absent a lot from school.”
Then the Goodwin family found PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital. The New Brunswick facility offers the state’s only inpatient pediatric chronic pain rehabilitation program. In response to the uptick in kids who need its state-of-the-art pain services, Children’s Specialized Hospital has raised nearly $1.5 million to help expand the New Brunswick site by eight beds, which will let the hospital treat more children in its chronic pain program. The amount represents half the funds needed.
Lucky for Kelsey, the pain program at PSE&G Children's Specialized Hospital, is a leader in the diagnosis and treatment of RND. Hard to diagnose, the condition is sometimes misdiagnosed or dismissed as psychosomatic. Children and adolescents who come here have been through a lot,” says Dr. Katherine Bentley, the physiatrist – the non-surgical specialty treating mobility conditions through rehabilitation – who heads Kelsey’s treatment team. “Many of our patients have had other treatments that haven’t worked. We are often their last hope.”
“The best advice I was given was to try everything even if you physically can’t do it. I followed that advice faithfully and worked extremely hard.”-Grateful Patient