Margot De Kooning, PhD candidate   October 4th, 2016

Margot De Kooning, PhD candidate

(August 30, 2016) 7:15 pm: The moment Margot De Kooning got rewarded for five years of hard work, by being promoted to ‘Doctor in Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy’.

Since such promotion deserves closer attention, I’m happy to enumerate some of her contributions to science in general and more specifically her attribution to the knowledge of chronic pain in whiplash patients.

Autonomic nervous system, stress response and pain

The autonomic nervous system, in particular the autonomic stress response, might modulate central pain processing in patients with chronic whiplash associated disorders (WAD). This hypothesis resulted from previous research findings, showing disturbances in the autonomic nervous system and the presence of a post-traumatic stress reaction in this population. Margot De Kooning demonstrated with her study that autonomic responses to painful stimuli do not differ between patients with chronic WAD and healthy controls. However, one subgroup who also experienced post-traumatic stress had a slightly blunted autonomic response to the painful stressor: a whiplash accident that served as a traumatic experience decreases the autonomic reactivity on stress.

Autonomic nervous system and acupuncture in chronic whiplash associated disorders

Findings from previous studies showed that one session of acupuncture treatment can reduce pain sensitivity in patients with chronic WAD. However, it has been hypothesized that many of these positive results in acupuncture research could be interpreted as stress-induced analgesia. Therefore, Margot De Kooning decided to measure its effect on the autonomic nervous system response in patients with WAD and whether this response is related to pain inhibition after an acupuncture session. She performed a randomized crossover trail in which each patient received one acupuncture and one relaxation session. Results revealed that in patients with chronic WAD, acupuncture has no specific effects on the autonomic response and that the reduction in pain sensitivity was not caused by stress induced analgesia.

Dear Doctor Margot De Kooning, as a freshman PhD student I admire your research accomplishments and wish you a successful career ahead. Congratulations!

Dra. Roselien Pas

2016 Pain in Motion

References and further reading:

De Kooning M, Daenen L, Cras P, Gidron Y, Roussel N, Nijs J. Autonomic response to pain in patients with chronic whiplash associated disorders. Pain Physician. 2013 May-Jun;16(3):E277-85. PubMed PMID: 23703426.

De Kooning M, Daenen L, Roussel N, Cras P, Buyl R, Ickmans K, Struyf F, Nijs J. Endogenous pain inhibition is unrelated to autonomic responses in acute whiplash-associated disorders. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2015;52(4):431-40. doi: 10.1682/JRRD.2014.06.0154. PubMed PMID: 26348457.

De Kooning M, Tobbackx Y, Meeus M, Wauters L, Ickmans K, De Vilder P, Roose J,Verhaeghe T, Nijs J. Acupuncture-Analgesia Following a Single Treatment Session in Chronic Whiplash is Unrelated to Autonomic Nervous System Changes: A Randomized Cross-over Trial. Pain Physician. 2015 Nov;18(6):527-36. PubMed PMID: 26606004.