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6 June 2019

It was about time that ESCIF Congress took a place in Scandinavia, as Annika Tännström accurately put it during her welcome address, representing Region Västra Götaland and City of Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden where the 14th ESCIF Congress took a place from 27 - 29 May 2019. 


Indeed it was a memorable event thanks to the outstanding organisation by the whole team of The Swedish Association for Survivors of Polio, Accident and Injury (RTP) and Gothenburg Competence Centre for SCI.
Gunilla Åhren, engaged in both organisations and also ESCIF for many years, briefly introduced us to the congress theme, EMPOWERMENT - KNOWLEDGE IS POWER as the program already continued by the first keynote speaker who elaborated on the topic.
It was no-one else but Lisa Harvey, a physiotherapist with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy), Graduate Diploma of Applied Science (Exercise and Sport Science), Masters of Applied Science (Physiotherapy) and PhD.
She is both a clinician and a researcher with over 20 years' experience in the area of spinal cord injuries. She is primarily interested in clinical trials designed to determine the effectiveness of different physiotherapy interventions for people with spinal cord injury.
On Tuesday morning we started with a workshop led by Jacobs Olhsson from Reform Act, organisation facilitating people's engagement, who introduced to the congress participants an effective way to start a campaign or a project.
During this session Anders Westgerd from Gothenburg Independent Living and Theo te Winkel from Dwarslaesie Organisatie Nederland showed us their unique approach to the lobbying and raising public awereness to demostrate different means by which we can achieve our mission.
In the afternoon the working day continued by sincere and seemingly intimate presentation about the issue common to the most SCI people, bowel management. Claes Hultling brought by the congress' golden sponsor Wellspect, has done a great job in making us think about our habits and the way we treat ourselves. Claes is a SCI doctor at The Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm. He is also a professor and the founder of the Spinalis Foundation, a cutting-edge organization that is dedicated to research and development of treatment in SCI.
Wellspect also displayed their bowel management and bladder products with great interest of the participants. As exhibitors Braun Ability showed solutions for cars. Panthera and Permobil had their different wheelchairs and attachments for display. The companies that participated and had an exhibition had a lot of activity in the breaks. 
The program continued with the next keynote speaker John Chernesky who is the Consumer Engagement Lead at the Rick Hansen Institute and the Vice-president of the North American Spinal Cord Injury Consortium (NASCIC). With nearly 25 years of lived experience SCI, John has participated in dozens of research studies in addition to being a co-investigator on a number of research projects. He works closely with spinal cord injury consumers (individuals with lived experience including people with SCI, their family and friends, as well as consumer-focused community organizations and advocacy groups) to ensure research is addressing their priorities and will have an impact on their lives. 
We finished the working day with the 14th Assembly of Delegates and in particular the elections to the ESCIF Executive board which we will report in separate document.
The Delegates' Dinner took a place in the evening and the beautiful moments were accompanied by Martin Engqvist, tetraplegic singer and his band The Confidence Man.
The last day was dense in know-how that the participants could gain from various speakers. The morning was focused on different ways to spread the knowledge. Also the keynote speakers had their part in this session. 
The final section of the ESCIF Congress 2019 was series of presentations exceeding the theme of the congress in a positive way.
  • Anna-Carin Lagerström presented us publications on healthy living with SCI. You can download some of the books for free at spinalis.se/litteratur
  • Julia Anderson and Eric Berndtsson told us about their current peer-based project at RG Aktiv Rehabilitering
  • This organisation was also represented by Katarzyna Trok who shared with us a fascinating story about peer-based training program for people with SCI in Botswana.
We concluded the three days of knowledge sharing, creating and deepening relationships and also good food and laughs by invitation to the ESCIF Congress 2020, which will take a place in Nottwil from 6 - 8 May 2020.
ESCIF Congress 2019 in Gothenburg was posted by ESCIF.
To discuss any of its subject matter further please contact ESCIF.

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