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University of Iowa researchers recieve $13 million in grants to help fight opioid use

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) — Researchers and doctors at the University of Iowa are doing their part to help end the opioid epidemic and find alternative methods of pain management.

This has all been made possible by two grants through the National Institute of Health’s HEAL initiative. The UI’s two grants, totaling nearly $13 million are just a fraction of the $945 million divided into 375 grants awarded in 41 states.

Kathleen Sluka, PhD, UI professor of physical therapy and rehabilitation science helped secure the funding to continue research she’s been working on for at least a decade.

According to Sluka, both grants are working to tackle pain management but from different angles.

“Coming up with new and better ways to manage pain is where we’re all ultimately go. We all want to prevent the transition. We want to treat chronic pain patients with as many safe, effective treatments as we can to have a better toolbox for our patients to get them more relief, more active and return back to society,” said Sluka.

The first project is looking at alternative pain management, specifically for fibromyalgia patients, that experience pain all over especially while in motion.

The research involves adding an alternative chronic pain solution to regular physical therapy. The solution is nerve stimulation using TENS, transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation to reduce pain and the need for drug use.

The grant provides more than $6 million of funding over a five-year period. This project is being done in collaboration with Leslie Crofford, MD, the Wilson Family Chair of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The second grant is for a project looking at acute pain versus chronic pain to see if there are indicators for why some patients don’t recover from pain after surgery.

To read more about the project, visit the UI’s website.

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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