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Airing Pain 47: The Power of the Mind

Inves­ti­gat­ing ancient and futur­is­tic tech­niques to reduce pain using the pow­er of the mind: from mind­ful­ness to neuro-engineering

This edi­tion has been fund­ed by a grant from the Scot­tish Government.

In this edi­tion of Air­ing Pain Paul Evans explores the pos­si­bil­i­ty of con­trol­ling pain through tech­niques that focus on the brain and the mind.

Paul meets Alek­san­dra Vuck­ovic, a reha­bil­i­ta­tion engi­neer at the South­ern Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal in Glas­gow, who is con­duct­ing research into the use of neu­ro-engi­neer­ing tech­niques to con­trol chron­ic pain in those with injuries to the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem. She explains that neu­ro-engi­neer­ing works through patients train­ing them­selves to iden­ti­fy the part of their brain that con­trols their pain and then reduc­ing it using brain waves. One of her patients, Andy Nis­bet, shares his own expe­ri­ence of the tech­nique and dis­cuss­es the poten­tial for future advance­ments in this method.

Paul also speaks to Vidya­mala Burch, founder and direc­tor of Man­ches­ter-based organ­i­sa­tion Breath­works, which offers train­ing for health­care pro­fes­sion­als and indi­vid­u­als in mind­ful­ness-based approach­es to chron­ic pain. She intro­duces us to the mind­ful­ness tech­nique, which fus­es mod­ern med­i­cine with age-old east­ern prac­tices, and talks about the advan­tages of becom­ing aware of emo­tion­al and phys­i­cal states as they occur. Burch explains that mind­ful­ness allows peo­ple to iden­ti­fy the behav­iour pat­terns relat­ed to their suf­fer­ing and to make a con­scious choice about that behav­iour. This tech­nique impacts on all areas of a person’s life: allow­ing them to reduce stress, main­tain good rela­tion­ships with those around them and increase their self-esteem.

Issues cov­ered in this pro­gramme include: Mind­ful­ness, neu­ro­science, brain sig­nals, pain per­cep­tion, ner­vous sys­tem, med­ical research, men­tal health, back pain, reha­bil­i­ta­tion engi­neer­ing, alter­na­tive ther­a­py, spinal injury and neuro-feedback.


  • Alek­san­dra Vuck­ovic – Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Engi­neer, South­ern Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal, Glasgow
  • Andy Nis­bet – patient under­go­ing neuro-engineering
  • Vidya­mala Burch – founder and direc­tor of mind­ful­ness organ­i­sa­tion Breathworks.


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