Speaker Information for the 2021 San Diego Pain Summit

Keynote Dr. John Launer

Title: TBA

Synopsis: TBA

Bio: John Launer is a family physician, family therapist, educator and writer based in London England. He has written or edited six books on interactional skills and related topics, including “Narrative-Based
Practice in Health and Social Care: Conversations Inviting Change” and “How Not To Be A Doctor, and Other Essays.”

He has given presentations and run workshops around Europe, in the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan, and has led highly acclaimed trainings in
narrative practice for the Pain Physiotherapy Association in the United Kingdom.

For more information see www.johnlauner.com and listen to
his podcast interview with Mark Kardela of Modern Pain Care.


Keynote Dr. Melanie Noel

Title: TBA

Synopsis: TBA

Bio: Melanie Noel, PhD, RPsych is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Calgary and a Full Member of the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education, and Owerko Centre. She directs the Alberta Children’s Pain Research Lab within the Vi Riddell Pain & Rehabilitation Centre at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. 

Dr. Noel’s expertise is on children’s memories for pain and co-occurring mental health issues and pediatric chronic pain. She published conceptual models of children’s pain memory development, co-occurring PTSD and chronic pain, and fear-avoidance (80 peer-reviewed papers, H index = 23). In recognition of her contributions to advancing knowledge of the psychological aspects of children’s pain, Dr. Noel received early career awards from the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), the Canadian Pain Society, the American Pain Society, the Canadian Psychological Association, and the Society of Pediatric Psychology. 

Dr. Noel is an advocate for the use of developmentally tailored psychological interventions for pediatric pain management and serves on committees to promote and implement evidence-based interventions within her children’s hospital and beyond. As an evidence lead on the Help Eliminate Pain in Kids and Adults team, Dr. Noel co-authored clinical practice guidelines for pain and fear management for vaccine injections. Many of these recommendations were adopted by the World Health Organization.


Michael Amato, PT

Title: Pain and Attention: Focusing on the Lived Body

Synopsis: Pain as more than just a sensation, but as an experience that is lived through can be challenging to explore as it exposes oneself to the meanings of pain that extends beyond the mechanisms of tissue physiology and neuroscience.

The intent of this presentation is not to trivialize the work done at the biological level that can help drive the understanding and treatment of people in pain, but to start at the beginning: when pain interrupts life and demands the attention of the person in pain. The focus here is to explore the attention demanding aspects of pain—and more specifically, how this relates to the lived experience of pain and its possible role in developing hypervigilance and chronicity.

The presentation will explore empirical evidence on hypervigilance and fear-avoidance to models of attention and cognition, and ultimately back to how this all relates to the lived experience of the person in pain, informing treatment and the healing process.

By the end, we will question whether pain should be modeled as an object that can be attended to or as a meaning-making process that relates the lived body and the world.

Bio: Michael Amato is a physical therapist based out of Winchester, MA, where he treats and serves as the Director of Clinical Education at Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness. His primary focus of care is centered around exercise and education, applying principles of strength and conditioning, neuroscience, psychology and philosophy to help individuals of all levels reach their goals in health and fitness.

Through his work, Michael hopes to help reduce the societal burden and change some of the narratives around chronic pain. Outside of the clinic, Michael is involved in Barbell Medicine as part of the Pain & Rehab Division, providing remote consultations and programming for clients, and podcasting and writing with his colleagues.

His particular interest in pain revolves around the lived experience of pain and suffering and how practitioners view this experience through their patients. 


Melissa Cady, D.O.

Title: TBA

Synopsis: TBA

Bio: Dr. Melissa Cady is an American-trained osteopathic physician who is dual board-certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine. Dr. Cady’s path has been unique with her history as a personal trainer, a physical therapy aide, and managing her own persistent pain.

Known as the Challenge Doctor, Dr. Cady chose not to join a typical pain practice immediately after training out of conviction that there is a better way to address pain’s root cause with better education as a critical component. Her first public effort is reflected in PAINDEMICA Practical and Holistic Look at Chronic Pain, the Medical System, and the antiPAIN Lifestyle, which emphasizes patient engagement, advocacy, and self-care throughout the pain journey.

As a result of the book, Dr. Cady created and manages the PainOutLoud.com website to highlight the video stories of those who have found ways to overcome their pain and also thoughtful professionals who are devoted to helping those in pain with more holistic and educational approaches. 

Dr. Cady loves animals, dancing and traveling—she is especially fond of Australia and New Zealand. Oh, and she has a passion for the platypus, which ironically has a connection to pain (male spur has painful toxin untreatable by opioids).



Blaise Dorian, BSc (Hons), MSc

Title: Managing persistent pain in young people: Assembling the physical, psychological, social through the philosophical.

Synopsis: As with working with adults who experience persistent pain, working with young people has some complex challenges. There are, of course, differences that make this area of rehabilitation unique. There are the more frequently reported elements of cognitive, physical and psychological development to take into account, and then there are the ‘structural’ and ‘substructural’ factors that are not always obvious.

The presentation will take a physiotherapy (physical therapy) perspective, because that is my professional perspective. However, it will not aim to go over treatment techniques per se. Rather, it will aim to provide some strategies to overtly consider potential perpetuating and protective factors that may be influencing a young person’s pain experience, such as:  * The influence of parental / guardian interactions and responses. Including (but not limited to) their distress, their coping strategies, their own health, etc.

* The influences of the extended family, the neighborhood they grow up in, their friends, their school, and Social Media. The array of influences will be framed in three different philosophical perspectives that enrich the biopsychosocial model of care in order to aid clinical reasoning, so as to acknowledge and integrate the identified factors into treatment approaches.

These philosophical perspectives are: Assemblage – Ideas from the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari (A Thousand Plateaus, 1980) might help to make sense of what seem to be un- or disconnected events, signs, symptoms and influences that are part of an individual’s pain. Assemblages are connections that emerge out of a purpose, producing different manifestations, meanings or behaviours when combined. They can be time specific, or temporary. Enactive and embodied cognition –

The concepts of how our physical selves interact with the environment is critical to how we make sense of the world and the events we experience.

Dispositionalism – The dispositional view of causation. Looking at what influences the presentation, and how the person is behaving from the perspective of how they "tend to be".

Bio: Blaise Doran, BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy, Grad. Dip. Neuro. Rehab., MSc Pain Management.
I am a UK-trained physiotherapist with 16 year’s post-qualification experience.

From the outset of my physiotherapy career, I have always gravitated to working in publicly-funded healthcare in inpatient and outpatient settings (predominantly neurological rehabilitation and chronic pain management).

Other miscellaneous areas of interest, and experience:
I am a peer reviewer for the journal Disability and Rehabilitation.
I am a member of the Critical Physiotherapy Network, and have co-authored a chapter in
their first book Manipulating Practices: A Critical Physiotherapy Reader (2018).
I have an interest in clinical ethics, and am a member of the Royal Children’s Hospital clinical
ethics response group, as well as a clinical advisory group dealing
with the management of complex, medically unexplained symptoms.
I was a professional actor for 10 years prior to retraining as a physiotherapist.


Amy Eicher

Title: TBA

Synopsis: TBA

Bio: Amy Eicher, author, speaker, pain coach and host of the Restoring You podcast, has a reputation for sharing relatable stories and gently challenging the beliefs of patients and clinicians alike. 

She combines her 20 year long journey through pain and her insatiable love of learning to help others understand how the rich complexities of their own stories can help them move beyond pain.

Her time as an educator and in youth ministry make her a dynamic and thought provoking speaker, turning complex research into practical ideas ready to use in your clinic tomorrow. When not reading research or discussing ideas online, she would love to be scuba diving anywhere there is warm water and a sandy beach. She lives in Normal Illinois with 2 teens and 2 dogs in the perfect little house that pinterest helped build.  Visit her online at www.Restoringvenus.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RestoringVenus


Michael Falcon, OTD, OTR/L, MHA, BS 

Title: TBA

Synopsis: TBA

Bio: Michael Falcon simultaneously received his Doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy, along with a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration, from Pacific University. He currently works with pediatrics in the school setting and holds a seat on the executive board in the Occupational Therapy Association of Oregon (OTAO), currently serving on the Legislative Committee, Website Committee and Continuing Ed. Subcommittee. He also serves on the Presidential Task Force on the Global Alliance of Pain Patient Advocates (GAPPA), through the International Association for the Study of Pain. (IASP). 

Michael has a passion for international OT and program development. His previous work includes program development for children with socialization deficits in Ecuador, trainings to local medical communities in Ibarra, Ecuador, and humanitarian work in Haiti. 

His most recent projects include training Occupational Therapy students in Haiti and consulting with local Oregon school districts in developing curriculum around Opioids, Pain and Self-Care. Michael has presented at conferences such as AOTA 2016 in Chicago, WFOT 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa, OTAO 2019 in Lincoln City, Oregon and Oregon Pain Summit 2020, in Lebanon, Oregon.


Nathan Hutting, Ph.D., PT

Title: DIY: Self-management support

Synopsis: Persistent musculoskeletal pain is a worldwide health problem resulting in negative effects on individuals' well-being and substantial costs to society. According to the IASP Curriculum Outline on Pain for Physical Therapy, the primary therapeutic objective of physical therapists working with people experiencing pain is to provide evidence-based person-centred care that promotes health and well-being across the lifespan. Physical therapists have a role to provide contemporary education about pain and to encourage early engagement of every patient in appropriate evidence-based active pain-management strategies (what the patient can do themselves), rather than solely focusing on the use of passive interventions (what you do for the patient).

In this regard, treatment interventions need to be designed to form part of an overall pain-management approach at the core of which lies self-management. A person-centred approach that focuses on self-management and a healthy lifestyle is important to restore and maintain function, to improve participation in the long term, and to provide a management plan instead of a cure. Self-management support, as an overall approach to persistent musculoskeletal pain conditions with a multifactorial biopsychosocial origin, may contribute to the long-term management of persistent pain conditions. In this way, patients will feel empowered and have the skills and knowledge to actively manage their condition, even after the initial treatment period has ended.

This presentation will focus on the role that physical therapist can play with in providing self-management support to their patients. Participants will gain knowledge about self-management principles and strategies and will able to integrate self-management support in their daily clinical practice and to support patients in their self-management.

Bio: Dr. Nathan Hutting is currently working as a researcher at the HAN University of Applied Sciences, research group Occupation & Health in The Netherlands. Nathan is also working as a physical therapist and manual therapist in a private practice and is a board member of the Dutch Association for Manual Therapy and the Member Organisation delegate of the Netherlands in the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT). His PhD thesis (2015) entitled “Effectiveness of a self-management program for employees with complaints of the arm, neck, and/or shoulder” consisted of seven peer-reviewed publications.

His current research topics include (work related) musculoskeletal disorders, self-management, manual therapy, and the integration of occupational factors within physical therapy practice. Nathan was trained as a Chronic Disease Self-Management Master Trainer (Self-Management Resource Center, Palo Alto, USA) and published an Viewpoint article about the role of physical therapists  in promoting the use of self-management strategies for people with persistent musculoskeletal disorders in JOSPT in 2019. In the past years, Nathan was involved in several research projects on self-management.

As primary applicant or co-applicant, Nathan has received over 550.000 euro of research funding. Nathan has given many (inter)national presentations and chaired focused symposia at the WCPT congresses in 2017 and 2019 and at the IFOMPT conferences in 2016 and 2020.

Nathan is an associate editor of BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, a member of the advisory board of the Dutch Repetitive Strain Injury Association, and a member of the Scientific College Physical Therapy of the Royal Dutch Society for Physical Therapy.



Richard McIlmoyle, BSc, DC, PgCPain

Title: Stop searching for the Sasquatch. Throwing time, money and effort on mechanistic predictors for responders to manipulation is a mythical journey.

Synopsis: Efforts have been made to determine if there are predictors for those who will respond to various interventions. If we shift our focus and understand the mechanisms behind our interventions we can understand why this search will never bear any fruit as exemplified by the research already performed. Better predictors of patient's response to treatment may lie in the psychosocial realm, rather than the biological.

Bio: TBA


Annie O’Connor, MSPT, OCS, Cert. MDT 

Title: TBA

Synopsis: TBA

Bio: Annie O'Conner is Founder and CEO of a World of Hurt, LLC a dedicated consulting, teaching, telehealth and research company for the application of Pain Mechanism Classification System into MSD clinical practice. In addition, she is Clinical Manager of MSD Partnerships at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab formerly known as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.  

Annie has co-authored 2019, Pain Mechanism Classification ChapterRehabilitation of The Spine: A Patient Center Approach 3e, Liebenson C (ed). Wolters Kluwer Philadelphia publisher. She has co-authored 2020 and 2017Therapeutic Exercise ChapterOrthopedic Knowledge Update Spine 6 & 5American Academy for Orthopedic Surgeons publisher. This chapter specifically is dedicated to helping Medical Doctors understand pain mechanism classification and the importance in therapeutic exercise selection.  

She has co-authored 2015 book “A World of Hurt: A Guide to Classifying Pain” and September 2016 Journal Article in JMMT “Validation of a pain mechanism classification system (PMCS) in physical therapy practice”. Both publications offer a research supported “paradigm shift” in managing Musculoskeletal Pain promoting effective and efficient outcomes with significant cost savings. 

She is an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) of the American Physical Therapy Association and has a Certification in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy in the McKenzie Method (Cert. MDT). She teaches nationally and internationally the World of Hurt training courses, a six course training series designed for interdisciplinary application of the PMCS into clinical practice.

She lectures nationally and internationally on musculoskeletal pain mechanism classification and intervention, neurodynamic evaluation and treatment, mechanical diagnosis and therapy of spine and extremities, kinetic chain evaluation, functional manual therapy and exercise prescription. She was instrumental in establishing the Pain Mechanism Classification System approach for musculoskeletal pain and neurological spasticity at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab formerly known as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

She is a member of American Physical Therapy Association in the orthopedic section and canine special interest group, the North American Spine Society (NASS) serving on the Exercise Committee, and McKenzie Institute. She continues to treat orthopedic, neurological patients, and canines with pain to achieve the best life possible through her Chicago based private practice and the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab.


Rachel Zoffness, Ph.D.

Title: CBT for Chronic Pain: Bridging the Gap between Medicine & Psychology

Synopsis: For decades, chronic pain has been perceived as a purely biomedical problem. As such, it has historically been treated with primarily biomedical solutions like pills and procedures. We now find ourselves in the midst of an opioid crisis. One hundred million Americans struggle to find solutions for their pain, and rates of chronic pain continue to rise. Due to widespread misinformation and a lack of pain education across disciplines, patients and providers alike are in the dark about pain. Science tells us that pain is not purely biomedical, but rather biopsychosocial – the product of biological, cognitive, emotional, social and contextual factors working in concert to produce and reduce pain. Indeed, research supports the efficacy of nonpharmacological, biobehavioral treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for pain management.

However, psychosocial pain management strategies are under-prescribed, and often viewed as “last resort” despite the fact that they’re evidence-based and have zero side effects. It’s time to bridge the gap between medicine and psychology, brain and body, physical and emotional. This talk will unify the various disciplines treating pain under the shared umbrella of pain education and a biopsychosocial approach to pain management.

It will outline the biopsychosocial model, describe the role of thoughts and emotions in pain amplification and reduction, define CBT and the role of biobehavioral strategies in pain management, outline how to “explain pain” using neuroscience and metaphor, and address and explode the stigma around “therapy for pain.”

Additionally, attendees will get to look inside the mysterious black box of CBT and learn specific strategies and techniques to help turn the volume down on pain.

Bio: Dr. Zoffness is the author of The Chronic Pain and Illness Workbook for Teens, a CBT-based pain management workbook for youth, caregivers and providers, and piloted the Psychology Today column “Pain, Explained.” She was trained at Brown, Columbia, UCSD, SDSU, the NYU Child Study Center, St. Luke's-Mt Sinai Hospital, and the Mindful Center. Her second workbook, for adults, will be released by New Harbinger in 2020. More resources and information are available at zoffness.com. Find her on Twitter @drzoffness