It has taken over 5 years, but Akron resident Bob Harris can claim a victory. The Ohio State Senate passed SB 40 last week, a bill that will build awareness on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a severe chronic pain malady that Harris calls “a living hell.”
Harris is a finish carpenter who injured his knee while on the job 11 years ago. After enduring a surgery that didn’t work, Harris’ injury began to get worse.
As he told us earlier this year, “On a scale of 1 to 10, my pain was a 15.”
What Harris had was CRPS, which like most patients, took more than one doctor visit to diagnose.
Harris said, “If I can help one person to avoid going through what I did, it will be worth the effort.”
Harris began to talk with legislators and their staffs about CRPS. Senator Eric Kearney of Concinnati and one his key staff members, Damien Hardy, thought it was something to pursue and was one of the main sponsors of the bill.
Harris, his pain physicians, Dr. Tony Lababidi of Akron, Ohio State University Hospital pain physician and anesthesiologist Dr. Steven Severyn and others testified in October.
CRPS is a syndrome that is characterized by severe burning pain, changes in the bond and skin, excessive sweating, tissue swelling and extreme sensitivity to touch. It is more common in women and young girls and often develops after an injury like a sprain, a fracture and even, as in Harris’ case, after a surgery.
“The average CRPS patient might see five doctors, before it is diagnosed,” said Jim Broatch, Executive Director of the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association, a national non-profit organization devoted to education and research about CRPS. Dr. Lababidi, who joined Harris in Columbus, is happy that the bill has passed the Senate.
“My pain patients who suffer from CRPS deserve better. An earlier diagnosis can reduce a lot of the suffering that CRPS patients have to endure,” Dr. Lababidi emphasized.
Harris knows his work isn’t done yet. He’ll try to get the Ohio House to pass the bill soon, and then it can go to the Governor for his signature.