1 November 2017
56th ISCoS Annual Scientific Meeting 24-26 October 2017 in Dublin, Ireland.
The 56th ISCoS Congress took place just outside Dublin in what was said to be the largest hotel in Europe. The programme was filled with plenary sessions and parallel workshops. The workshops were not set up in a traditional way with high interactivity with the auditory but rather in a way where the speakers was collected into sessions with themes.
There were five plenary sessions with invited keynote speakers. The themes ranged from translational challenges between science and clinical practise, neuropathic pain after SCI, pressure ulcer prevention and treatment, management of neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction to global health system strengthening. Of the five keynote speakers, Professor Dame Nicky Cullum delivered the most shocking news. Even though about 50% of people with SCI has pressure ulcers, only 3% of the studies had participants with SCI. Of approx. 15 000 in all the studies only 18 persons had SCI. That means that today’s treatment and praxis are based on experience but rather than on evidence based medicine. Professor Cullum summed by stating, “We have an evidence desert!”
There were eight sessions with five parallel workshops in each session. It can be rather frustrating to know that you can only participate in a fraction of the workshops offered and it is a hard knowing if the workshop will be interesting or not. Most of the workshops had four or five presentations followed by discussions with the speakers in a panel.
The first workshop that we participated in, focused on Telehealth support. ESCIF has recommended Telehealth to facilitate centralised care and thereby overcome some of the challenges with distances. The speakers came from China, USA, India and Nigeria. It was clear that the underdeveloped countries are very advanced in this area. They have develop telehealth services due to lack of infrastructure and health services. India are for instance using “WhatsApp” (well known for anyone using social media) instead of Skype to communicate with patients and health professionals in the community since it requires less bandwidth to function.
The theme on the second workshop was “Barriers to community integration for persons with SCI”. One of the speakers was Shivjeet Raghav, a peer counselor from India, whom we´ve met at an ESCIF congress. A trend in this year’s congress was Family roles, which many of the workshops focused upon. Two of the speakers talked about the importance of involving the families during the rehabilitation period. They also reported that many family members show signs of depression during the rehabilitation, which enhances during the period of community integration and they called for awareness for this problem.
Another interesting workshop focused on SCI Educational Initiatives. An interesting comparison between 2007 and 2017 clearly illustrated the digital revolution. These days it is more common with education on-line rather than heavy textbooks. Some examples was eLearnSCI, SCIREProject and MOOCs among other things. Today’s educations also focus more on the groups than just the health professionals, for instance Family & Peers, social workers and government/policy staff.
Lucy Robinson, peer counselor at Stoke Mandeville had put together a very interesting workshop “Comparing different innovative peer led approaches that maximise life outcomes for people affected by SCI”. Special focus was on groups that are hard to reach; family members and people who are aging with SCI. Andrew Dickinson from Back Up in UK stressed the importance of providing services to “People affected by SCI” rather than merely “People living with SCI” so that also family members are included. John Chernesky from the Rick Hansen Institute in Canada shared the experience from the services developed there and among other things showed the new consumer section in the SCIRE Project.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Discipline Specific Meetings was held. New for this year was that the consumer meeting was also run during these sessions. ESCIF was once again the moderator for the consumer meeting. Just like last year’s ISCoS, ESCIF had unknowingly chosen the same theme as many other workshops; Family Roles. Fiona Bolger from Spinal Injuries Ireland talked about how their services for family members are organized, Tara Jeji from Canada talked about parenting and Kim Anderson-Erisman talked about which impact personal assistance has on family roles.
The first workshop we attended on Thursday morning focused on the development of active research networks. This workshop is part of a series of workshops during the last five years to promote the development of research networks. Different networks have developed the last couple of years including the European network EMSCI and different North-American networks. However, before that, we attended a breakfast seminar run by Rick Hansen Institute and ICORD on the same theme on networks to promote the translation from research to clinic.
The last workshop we attended focused on self-efficacy and its relevance to quality of life. Through measurements, the researchers now know that self-efficacy has a greater impact on quality of life than previously was perceived.
There wasn't much time for visiting Dublin and its famous sites, but we did have time to go and see the ancient St. Patrick’s Cathedral.