The YSU grad has worked with Olympic athletes and members of the NBA.



The YSU grad has worked with Olympic athletes and members of the NBA.
By ROB TODOR
VINDICATOR SPORTS EDITOR
PHOENIX -- Ever wish you could simply think a pain away?
Well, thanks to some revolutionary research by a Campbell native, that idea isn't as far-fetched as it may seem.
Raymond J. Petras, a graduate of Ursuline High and Youngstown State University (Class of 1972), has been at the forefront of a technique called psycho-neuro pain response, or Taking Away Pain.
Essentially, Petras teaches patients mental techniques that speed healing, eliminate pain and improve range of motion.
"There are four steps," said Petras, who moved to this city two years ago after splitting his practice between here and Minneapolis. "The first is to define pain. What is pain? It's a signal to your brain that you have a problem.
"The second step, then, is to show the individual how to control the pain. My contention is, that if it's OK for the pain to go away, it will happen," Petras added. "The mind's job with the body is to protect you, so once you know that, you don't need it any more."
The third and fourth steps involve determination if the patient can, indeed, eliminate or reduce the pain, and to deal with any stress the patient may experience.
Petras' background is as interesting as his technique.
From engineering to psychology
He graduated from YSU with a degree in chemical engineering. He was employed by DuPont and 3M as a research and development engineer, and while with the latter, he returned to college at the University of Minnesota to take psychology courses. He has a doctorate in psychology.
"My job at 3M was to come up with new ideas," Petras said. "I got so good at it I was getting patents and developing products. A cancer specialist saw me and asked if I could use this mental stuff to relieve pain. His patients were so drugged up, they were basically not living, they're just existing. The literature said this is possible, and we were very successful at it.
"My love has always been sports," he added. "The football coach at St. Thomas University in Minnesota asked if I could help them with injuries.
"The first three players I saw, one had a partial shoulder separation, one had a partial shoulder separation and meniscus damage, and the third had a Grade 2 ankle sprain. I saw them for about 20 to 30 minutes each, and when I was done, they had full strength, no pain and full range of motion. They went out the next day and were able to suit up."
Official associations
Petras also has worked with a number of U.S. Olympic teams (skiing, speed skating and track and field) and hockey and archery athletes, and he's also been involved with the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association.
He was officially tabbed as the team doctor of the World Cup of Speed Skating in 1996, 1997 and 2000; was a member of the Arizona Obesity Program's Governor's Workplace Committee in 2004; and presented a program in January 1998 at the NFL's first pre-Super Bowl Scientific Congress.
Petras also has been contracted by the Workers' Compensation Division of St. Paul, Minn., and the Pain Clinic of Ottawa, Canada, and has served as a private consultant with several performance-enhancement and injury-management centers in metropolitan Phoenix.
"It's not something that's just related to sports, but we're finding using mental techniques is very beneficial in helping relieve pain and speed the healing [process]," Petras said.
He said he always "goes through channels," checking with coaches, team doctors and trainers before beginning his consultations.
"The key is, in working with the doctors and trainers, we've never had one reported bad reaction," Petras added.
Petras even works in the racing community, with jockeys, trainers and yes, the animals.
"What am I going to tell people? That I talk to horses?" he laughed. "It sounds incredible."
Some naysayers
Petras' work hasn't been fully accepted, however. The National Football League and most major college programs reject his technique.
"I was basically told by team doctors that if I can do something they can't, it makes them look bad," he said, "and if you hurt somebody, we're out of a job, so we're not interested."
Petras recently joined the Fiesta Bowl Committee, which puts on the Insight Bowl, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, and this year, the Tostitos BCS national championship game at University of Phoenix Stadium.
He was selected to serve as chairman of the media golf outing, which will be Sunday.
"It's not always the pain," he said. "When we get really focused in our mind on what we want to accomplish in life, our system starts to change, and if we look at it as a problem, it shuts down. So we need to look at it in that respect, which is different than anything we've ever seen before.
"The doctors that I've worked with tell me they think it will be the new medicine," Petras added.
todor@vindy.com

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