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Aivo research highlight: CJ's journey

When CJ joined the Aivo research study, she had not tried brain-based strategies for managing chronic pain. As she was given the space to explore different aspects of the mind-body approach in the Aivo app, our team witnessed an inspiring transformation in her pain and sleep.

CJ’s journey began over 10 years ago with a diagnosis of undifferentiated connective tissue disease. In July of 2019, she had a broken ankle and kneecap that didn’t heal as expected. Over the next six months, symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) began to emerge. CRPS is a unique pain experience characterized by changes in the color, temperature, and circulatory health of the affected limb, as well as exquisite neuropathic pain with light touch and movement. A light touch can send powerful shocks of pain through the body. We have found that people who develop CRPS are among the toughest and most resilient groups of people with pain, because they have to be. The medical community has a limited understanding of the causes of CRPS, which is why it can be challenging to treat. 

By welcoming CJ into our research study, we had the opportunity to learn more about her unique pain experience. What were her goals? What challenges did she face in her everyday life? How could the support of an empathic coach soften the burden of carrying pain each day? And what made her pain tick?

Tracking CJ’s Relief

The cornerstone of the Aivo Program is rating pain twice a day, every day. Daily ratings give the Aivo Team a realistic picture of each person’s unique pain journey and helps us understand nuanced patterns in how pain relief emerges over time. 

When CJ joined the research study, she described a baseline of ongoing pain, with periods of pain flares that lasted days and sometimes weeks. She was in the grips of a intense pain flare, with pain levels spiking up to 7-8 out of the standard 10-point scale. Once the flare subsided, we discovered that her daily range of pain was between 3-6 and was closely related to her stress levels and the quality of her sleep. Stress and sleep are notorious culprits for making pain levels inch up, which is why Aivo’s program includes dozens of therapeutic tracks, which are 3-5 day mini-lessons, that specifically focus on ways to relieve stress and enhance the quality of sleep. 

After about two months in the research study, something remarkable happened. 

Whereas days with 2/10 pain used to be few and far between, they began to happen more frequently. The variation of CJ’s pain also reduced so that most weeks she bounced between 2-4 on the pain scale, and she rarely felt pain levels of 5 or 6. This marked an important point in her pain journey, because through her own efforts she was carving out a new baseline state with less pain. 

By CJ’s third month, she achieved a new level of stability where she is able to maintain a pain level of 2 for longer periods of time. Flares are more rare and less intense when they do happen. CJ’s inspiring progress shows that relief doesn’t happen overnight. It happens in stages, by learning new ways of understanding pain and by exploring new ways to move, rest, recuperate, and focus on her own needs.

The nervous system takes time to change. After living with intense pain for 3.5 years, CJ’s nervous system is slowly unwinding from previous patterns that amped up her pain. Day by day, she is discovering what her nervous system is capable of by gently and openly exploring new patterns of thinking, feeling, and moving. We are honored to witness CJ’s journey and we wanted to understand more.

CJ, can you describe your experience with the Aivo program and share how it has helped you to manage your pain?

I came into the program thinking nothing would help or change my pain and that I would just always feel this way.  Aivo has given me the tools to help control the way I view my pain, thus changing it, and the way it affects my daily life.  I'm able to move better and do more things making me feel better about myself and being able to take care of my family.

The app is extremely easy to use and I love that it only takes minutes a day.  I always have access to the different exercises to use when I need them.  

What specific parts of the program did you find most useful in managing your pain?

I personally found the interactive portions to be the most beneficial to me.  You can explain things to people but it's not until they can relate to what you say that it connects with them.  By being able to put out how aspects of my pain make me feel and getting the feedback of ways to change my view of it has opened up a whole new way of dealing with the day to day pain.  The meditation portions are also very helpful in being able to calm a situation or feeling before it escalates.

What advice would you give to someone who was considering starting Aivo?

To keep an open mind.  Take each portion of the program and really take time to explore it.  Some parts will resonate with you more than others but as you progress go back and try the ones that didn't again.  You might be more open to them later in the program.  There are going to be some bad days but don't give up or give in.  That one day does not define your pain or your journey on another day.

How did your personal Aivo Coach support your journey?

I've felt very alone with my pain. I really appreciate the time and attention of my coach.  He was very helpful in guiding me in new ways to approach my goal.  It was great to have someone to just listen without judgment.

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Supporting CJ’s Journey

As CJ's health coach in the Aivo Program, I had the amazing experience of watching her transformation and being there to cheer her on as she worked towards managing her pain. I started out by listening to CJ so I could understand her goals and real-life challenges more deeply. Together, we discussed how having a health coach could make a huge difference in reducing the impact of her pain. Then we went to work!

What makes CJ truly stand out to me was her unwavering commitment to her health and her determination to make the most of the program. From the very beginning, she embraced all the tools that were available to her, from lifestyle changes to self-reflection. CJ was always open to trying new things, and this openness is at the heart of real recovery. Her positive attitude and resilience in the face of adversity continue to inspire me. 

As we worked together, CJ started to shift her perspective on pain and her overall health, and she began to see results. Her energy levels increased, her sleep improved, and most importantly, she started to experience life with less pain. It is a privilege to witness her progress in such a short time! 

I admire CJ's strength, courage, and unwavering commitment to her health. Pain can turn your world upside down, and I want to acknowledge how much inner strength I have witnessed in CJ. She not only inspired and motivated herself to do something amazing, she also motivated and inspired the entire Aivo team. This is why we are here. This is our purpose. To support people just like CJ to move through pain and find freedom on the other side. She proved that with an open mindset, personalized tools, and empathic social support, anything is possible. 

Join Aivo’s Research to Find Your Road to Recovery

If CJ’s story sounds familiar and you are curious to see if Aivo could help you as well, you are in luck. We are currently running a research study and our participants have full access to the Aivo Program for 12 weeks, free of charge. By participating, you will have full access to the Aivo app, receive one-on-one support from a health coach, have access to private whatsapp Aivo Circle support groups, and get to participate in research meetups led by our head neuroscientist, where you have your questions answered in real time.

The study is open to motivated people who:

  • Have lived with chronic pain for more than 3 months.
  • Are over age 18.
  • Are in generally stable health.
  • Live in the United States.

As participant partnering with Aivo, we ask that you: 

  • Commit to participating for 12 weeks.
  • Engage with the content of the Aivo app for 10-20 minutes / day, at least 5 days a week.
  • Agree to rate your pain, mood, and sleep twice per day.
  • Inform your coach about any issues you encounter.
  • Keep an open mind!

The Aivo research program is designed for people who are dedicated to deepening their healing journey through the Aivo app. Click here to learn more about the study and to sign up!

Join our research study to get free access to the Aivo Program!

Get the full benefits of the program while helping develop better pain care for all.