A Concerned Citizen on the Recent Change to PRP Laws in Alberta

Recently, the College of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) has determined that Naturopathic Doctors are no longer permitted to perform PRP treatments. Naturally, this warrants concerns for patients in the province of Alberta that have benefitted, or will benefit from the treatments in the future. As a response to this determination by the CNDA, the following letter has been written by Dr. Christina Bjorndal, as a citizen and patient of PRP treatments:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to you as a concerned patient about the recent decision by the CNDA to no longer permit NDs to perform PRP. I have always used exercise as a key health practice to maintain my mental health. It has helped buoy me in times of depression and anxiety of which I have experienced for the last 35 years. I credit exercise as being the primary support that helped me regain my mental health after a suicide attempt in June 2009. Unfortunately, this was short lived as in February 2010 I had a complex meniscal tear in my right knee that stopped me in my tracks. I needed surgery as PRP was not an option at that time. It took over one year to get that surgery. During that time, I plunged back into a deep depression where I was plagued by suicidal thoughts. I could not function, work or care for my four year old son at that time.

The Mood Disorders Society of Canada put out a startling statistic in 2009: 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime1, including depression, mood disorder, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactive disorders and dementia (with anxiety and depression being the most common by far). If 20% of our population will experience such an event, it is very likely you or someone you know is, has been, or will be affected by mental illness. Rates have been climbing in Canada steadily for several decades and are expected to continue increasing2. Within a generation, it is estimated that more than 8.9 million Canadians will be living with a mental illness.

Nearly 10% of our country’s population is using some form of prescription antidepressant medication3. This first-line conventional treatment is not cheap—a conservative estimate of the cost of mental illness in Canada in 2011 was $42.3 billion in direct costs and $6.3 billion in indirect costs2. With so many Canadians living with mental illness, together with such high treatment costs, it’s a wonder that one of the most effective, safe and inexpensive tools for mood regulation is so underused as a prescriptive treatment for mental illness: exercise.

But, what is one to do when they are injured and cannot exercise? I have an appointment for PRP this week  that has now been cancelled by my ND. This puts me at risk for another plunge into depression if I can’t use this life saving treatment, for which I pay out of my own pocket, to prevent injury and surgery. I credit PRP to saving my mental health. If the CNDA is about protecting public safety, I do not see how this decision is protecting my safety as an Albertan. It is not in support of my health, at all. With this decision, you are putting many Albertans at risk – of increased mental health, pain and potential opiate use, and increased surgery rates – all of which cost the Alberta Government money in increased disability claims and cost Albertans their loved ones as they spiral into pain, despair and depression. This happens. It happened to me in 2010. The ability to move one’s body in a pain free way is crucial to living life. PRP is the only reason that I have been able to maintain my level of exercise in recent years.

PRP is a safe procedure. There have been no reported deaths from PRP. Meanwhile, the opiate crisis is just that: a crisis. PRP benefits people. It prevents surgery which saves the government money in the long run. It gets people back to work, back to exercise and back to leading productive, healthy lives.

I am gravely concerned about the CNDA’s decision to restrict Naturopathic Doctors from performing PRP. I firmly believe the Government and CNDA is putting the public at greater risk by restricting NDs ability to perform this, literally, life saving procedure.

Christina Bjorndal

References

Quick Facts on Mental Illness and Addictions in Canada (3rd Edition). (2009). Mood Disorders Society of Canada. http://www.mooddisorderscanada.ca/page/quick-facts

Smetanin, P., Stiff, D., Briante, C., Adair, C.E., Ahmad, S. and Khan, M. The Life and Economic Impact of Major Mental Illnesses in Canada: 2011 to 2041. RiskAnalytica, on behalf of the Mental Health Commission of Canada 2011. http://stg.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/system/files/private/document/MHCC_Report_Base_Case_FINAL_ENG_0.pdf

Statistics / health at a glance / 2013 /. (2013). Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Retrieved July 14, 2016, fromhttp://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/health_glance-2013-en/04/10/g4-10-04.html?contentType=&itemId=/content/chapter/health_glance-2013-41-en&containerItemId=/content/serial/19991312&accessItemIds=/content/book/health_glance-2013-en&mimeType=text/html&_csp_=2f6481becc176514dc3acbdcffc1daaa

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