Pediatric Pain & Palliative Care
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UCLA Health approach to pediatric pain and palliative care
At UCLA Health, our compassionate palliative care team is committed to relieving pain in children with complex, life-threatening conditions. We come together to improve your child’s quality of life while providing your whole family with encouragement and support. When you come to us, you’ll find:
Holistic approach: As a team, we approach pain relief from all angles. We combine several therapies, medications, acupuncture, relaxation techniques, meditation and mindfulness to help your child feel better.
Accessible care: We work with you to make it as easy as possible to get the care and comfort your child needs. Some children are unable to return to outpatient clinic visits for pain relief and other therapies after they’ve been discharged from the hospital. To continue caring for these children, we provide home visits aimed at alleviating pain and addressing symptoms. Our team also offers telehealth visits in addition to in-person care.
Comprehensive support: We understand the concerns, fears and emotions that many of our patients and families face. That’s why we offer the full spectrum of support and guidance to patients, parents and family members. You’ll have access to specialized support groups, education and resources designed to comfort you and help you cope. Our team is by your side throughout your journey.
Our areas of care
We offer a range of comprehensive services to patients and families, including inpatient and outpatient care, pain relief and bereavement support. Our compassionate team works together to provide:
Outpatient pain relief and comfort care
Our experienced team offers outpatient services to relieve pain and reduce symptoms in infants, children and adolescents. While focusing on your child’s individual needs, we evaluate symptoms, develop appropriate care plans and deliver treatments to soothe and comfort.
UCLA Health experts specialize in abdominal pain, headache, joint pain and limb pain, as well as other symptoms associated with complex and chronic medical conditions. Our goals are to relieve symptoms, improve function as much as possible and enhance quality of life.
Inpatient pain and comfort care (palliative care) consultation
For children who are in the hospital, our team delivers palliative care to ease pain, nausea, anxiety and other distress. We work with you and your child to recommend several types of treatment — both medical and nonmedical — to help your child feel better.
We specialize in supporting children with complex and life-threatening medical conditions. You’ll have a team of Child Life Specialists as well as medical, behavioral and spiritual care specialists by your side.
The UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital Comfort Corner offers a place for patients and family members to come to escape the hectic hospital environment. In the serene space, families enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, relaxing music and aromatherapy. Team members are available to listen and talk with parents.
At UCLA Health, we’re committed to helping patients and their families. This commitment does not end if a child passes away. That’s why our team has developed multiple resources to support bereaved families. As a team, we come together to help families cope with grief and move forward while honoring their child’s memory. Our bereavement services include:
Comforting Hearts Family Bereavement Group (CHFBG): Comforting Hearts provides a safe space for parents and siblings to cope with the death of a child and to share their experience with others. Through regular meetings, we help families find strength, hope and healing at their own pace.
Family memorial service: This annual celebration of life is for UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital families who have experienced the passing of a child. The memorial service is an opportunity for families and staff members to come together in a ceremony to remember and honor their children. It also includes activities for siblings and other family members.
Bereavement resources: Our social workers gather resources for each family to guide them and help them cope. These include referrals for funeral homes, mortuaries, support groups, hospices, financial assistance, specialized camps, sibling information and books to help with grief.
UCLA Health Childhood Pain Research Program
Physicians and psychologists at the UCLA Health Childhood Pain Research Program work together to understand acute and chronic pain in children. Through extensive research, we aim to prevent pain in childhood from progressing to pain in adulthood. We study many factors, including:
- How pain worsens or improves during puberty
- Menstrual cramps (period pain) in girls
- The relationship between gender and pain
- Whether genetics, social factors and family life impacts pain
We have a special interest in medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and we specialize in studying the relationship between the brain and the gut.
Our program also focuses on following long-term survivors of childhood cancer to evaluate their physical and emotional quality of life. We work with these survivors to develop interventions and therapies that reduce long-term pain and distress. These interventions include yoga, mindfulness, dance, art and music.
Our group also studies several types of therapy, such as hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to change how the mind responds to pain. This research allows us to help our young patients find relief now and hope for a pain-free future. We put our findings into practice every day.
Conditions we treat
Our compassionate team helps babies and children with pain, nausea, anxiety and other discomforts that result from serious illness. We specialize in many types of pain, including headaches, abdominal pain and pain in the joints, nerves and muscles.
We work with children who have all types of life-threatening and complex health conditions, including cancer, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, juvenile arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.
Treatments and therapies we offer
Pediatric palliative care begins when a child receives a diagnosis. We work closely with your child and family to develop services and therapies that provide comfort and pain relief. At UCLA Health, our team focuses on holistic palliative care. This means we integrate all aspects of your child’s physical, psychological and social needs and develop a plan that sustains their mind, body and spirit.
Comprehensive family support is an essential part of holistic care. That’s why we design each care plan to improve your child’s well-being while also considering the varied needs of siblings, parents and loved ones.
Our team includes doctors, nurses, Child Life Specialists, psychologists and social workers who have extensive experience helping babies and children with life-threatening and complex medical conditions. We partner with your child’s health care team to support you and your child.
Laura Payne, PhD
Assistant Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics, Research Director
Sarah R. Martin, PhD
Senior Research Associate
Administrative Support Team
UCLA Team Affiliates
Rev. Aiko (Irene) M. Johnson, MA, MDiv, BCC
Pediatric Chaplain, Department of Spiritual Care
Kellye Carroll, MS, CCLS
Director, Child Life/Child Development Program