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1 February 2013

The 6th Coloplast symposium was held in Barcelona on 18 and 19 January 2013. The theme this year was Current topics on prevention of SCI and its complications. More than 450 invited guests attended the event, together with representatives from Coloplast, from all over Europe – and as far away as China. The international composition of the audience was matched by that of the faculty; speakers from Europe, USA, Canada and Australia contributed to the scientific programme.


In his introduction to the meeting, Doug Brown (the current president of ISCoS) explained that the current times of economic recession and cost-cutting in the health sector demand a shift of focus from “treatment” to “prevention”. “Prevention” includes not only the avoidance of injury in the first place, but also the prevention of adverse outcomes following a spinal cord lesion. Doug Brown served for many years as the chair of ISCoS’ Prevention Committee and was the leading author of the prevention module in the learning resource launched last year www.elearnsci.org. He presented this module during the symposium – it should be “required reading” for anyone who is planning a prevention campaign in their country or region. Conversely, one could say that reading this module will make you want to launch a prevention campaign!


Several of the contributions were targeted specifically at the audience of specialist doctors and nurses (who comprised, after all, by far the majority of those present). Those in the audience without a medical background had to concentrate hard to follow the arguments involved! Dr Brian Kwon from Vancouver is to be congratulated for his ability to make the discussion of the neurological benefit of early surgical decompression following a traumatic SCI both interesting and accessible to the layman.


 On Friday evening, Dr William Bauman from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, outlined the general areas in which people with SCI can be confronted with medical challenges as a direct result of their injury. He began with an early medical observation of a person with a spinal cord injury as being a person “... with the lime leaking from his bones, the blood clotting in his veins, the flesh rotting from his seat..”! Unfortunately, this description seems to be rather accurate – even today! Dr Bauman could report on some positive findings from his clinic that could counteract at least some of these observed consequences/complications: high-dosage courses of vitamin D (32% of the SCI population are vitamin D deficient) to rectify loss of bone mass; metabolic testing and anabolic hormone replacement therapy to counteract the loss of lean body tissue (the massive increase in body fat and loss of lean body tissue following SCI predisposes the person to insulin resistance and cardiovascular problems); finally, the use of exoskeleton devices to enable the person with SCI “to get up and walk” which has a positive influence on many of the complications mentioned in his talk.


Another contribution from the US, Dr Greg Schilero, made both clinicians and consumers sit up and listen. As a specialist in pulmonary complications following SCI, Dr Schilero recommends not only an annual influenza vaccine for those with chronic SCI, but also a vaccination against pneumonia. Pneumonia is now the prime cause of morbidity and mortality among people with high lesions.


The complications that can follow SCI are not, however, restricted to physical conditions. People living with SCI can also suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome. Dr Claes Hultling from Spinalis in Sweden addressed this issue in the last presentation of the programme and, importantly, the fact that many SCI health professionals feel insecure when confronted with psychological rather than physical issues. Dr Hultling described the practice of “philosophical counselling” that he and others at Spinalis have developed to help newly-injured SCI patients “to embark on life with more self-awareness and self-security”.


The meeting in Barcelona also witnessed the launch of Coloplast’s newest product. Lars Rasmussen, the CEO of Coloplast, presented the SpeediCath Compact Set; a compact (i.e. telescopic) catheter with an integrated sterile bag.

Lars Rasmussen, CEO Coloplast, presents the latest product!


The device means that it is unnecessary to transfer to a WC in order to catheterise – in fact, one doesn’t need a bathroom at all! The set is available in both female and male versions.
The presentation of the new compact set included an interview with a test person from Switzerland. Morten Holmgård from Coloplast interviewed Kristian Wielander (see below) about his life, his work routines and his reactions to the SpeediCath Compact Set. Living high in the Swiss mountains with a time-consuming and difficult drive to work, Kristian explained that the new set gave him a freedom that he was unable to achieve earlier using traditional catheters.

The product will not be immediately available in all European countries – but, if you are interested in trying the set, you can sign up for a free sample on trySET.coloplast.com.


Morten Holmgård (left) interviews Kristian Wiederlander


A video of the presentations from the scientific programme of the symposium will soon be available on the Coloplast website.

You can download the abstract book here.

Coloplast SCI symposium was posted by ESCIF.
To discuss any of its subject matter further please contact ESCIF.

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