Jennifer Welter, DPT '09, Writes a Book About Pain

Donita Boles

Samuel Merritt University graduate Jennifer Welter, who works in pediatric rehabilitation, has made a significant contribution to children's health education. She recently co-authored a children's book, alongside Adriaan Louw, PT, PhD and Jessie Podolak, PT, DPT, which aims to shed light on the often-misunderstood topic of pain.

Welter, who earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from Samuel Merritt University in 2009, initially noticed a gap in resources related to pediatric pain education. Despite her education in pain neuroscience, she found a lack of accessible materials tailored to children. This prompted her to take matters into her own hands.

She embarked on a fellowship in pain sciences, focusing primarily on pediatric pain, and this is where she met Louw and Podolak who are prominent pain researchers and experts in the application of pain neuroscience. Together, they created a unique book that explains pain in a child-friendly manner. The book helps children understand that pain is their body's protector but can sometimes be overzealous.

The significance of this work becomes even more apparent when considering the startling statistics related to pediatric pain: One in three children experiences persistent pain, with 1.7 million children enduring moderate to severe chronic pain in the United States. This issue carries a substantial economic burden, as evidenced by the annual cost of pediatric pain, which amounts to a staggering $19.5 billion.

Welter, who currently serves as the supervisor of rehab services at Kaiser Permanente in Vacaville, aimed to provide children, their families, coaches, and therapists with a relatable resource to modify beliefs about pain. She believes that children, being neuroplastic, have great potential for change but need engaging materials.

The book, titled Ouch! Why Do I Hurt? A Children’s Workbook and Guide to Understanding Painserves as both a storybook and workbook and was released in February 2023 through OPTP. Welter has committed to donating her portion of the royalties from the book to various pediatric-related non-profit organizations, further emphasizing her dedication to children's well-being.

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