What is the purpose of the psychological assessment for spinal cord stimulator or other implantable pain therapy?

In most cases, both your insurance company and pain team require them as part of the process. The purpose of the evaluation to assess a candidate’s psychological readiness for implantable pain therapy, to determine strategies to help the candidate prepare for the procedure, to develop an individualized treatment plan in treating psychological risk factors so that poor candidates for implantable pain therapy have the chance to become good candidates, and to provide documentation for the insurers to verify the suitability of the patient.


What do I need to do to prepare for the psychological evaluation? What does evaluation involve?

Prior to the evaluation, please download the necessary forms under the “FORMS” page of the website. Please fill these out and bring them with you to the first appointment.  The evaluation consists of a clinical interview regarding your knowledge of your implant surgery, your expectations for it, your understanding of your responsibilities for re- charging and programming the stimulator, etc. You will also be asked to complete some paper and pencil assessments that deal with pain, coping, and mood. After you have met together, Dr. Fisher will compile a report summarizing the results will send that to your pain physician within 2 weeks. The evaluation typically last 1-2 hours unless there is a need for additional testing. In the latter case, a separate feedback session may be conducted to review the results and treatment recommendations.


So this psychological evaluation is to help us all make sure I am really ready?

That’s it! It is all about making sure the three- way partnership between the stimulator, your pain physician, and you are all a good fit. The surgically implanted Spinal Cord Stimulator system (SCS) you are considering is a big investment of your time and money. This includes not only the implant itself but post-surgery visits to your doctor for stimulator programming, your stimulator management and recharging, ongoing management of your pain using stretching, exercise, medication, participation in support groups, mood management, etc.


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