Highlights from Conference 2016

This week Aoife, Niamh and Trevis recap on MS Ireland's Living Well with MS Conference.

On Saturday, 24th September we attended MS Ireland's Conference in Cork, which focused on Living Well with MS. The MS and Me Blog team were invited to come along and live-tweet the event (which was also streamed live on the day). Videos of the different talks are available to watch on MS Ireland’s YouTube channel here

Our main-man Trevis was compère for the event, so Aoife and Niamh were dispatched to cover the different talks and break-out groups. Through Twitter, followers from around the world were able to tweet their questions, which were then put to the speakers. We received reports from people watching the live stream from as far away as Iran and Turkey in the East and San Francisco and Hawaii to the West. Many members of our own blog team were unable to attend but they joined the conversation from Dublin, Kildare, Spain and Italy! We were also thrilled to find that 266 people watched the live stream on the day.

A huge part of Living Well with MS is maintaining good brain health- in fact, this is important for everyone and was the focus of the day.

First up was Professor Gavin Giovannoni - a favourite of the MS and Me team. Prof Giovannoni gave an informative talk on the 'MS Healthy Brain and Time Matters' - Prof. Giovannoni promoted the importance of patients making decisions. He also highlighted the need for early and effective therapeutic intervention. He noted that the most effective treatments is also the most cost effective treatment, as long term costs are likely to be lower if early and effective treatment is used. Prof. Giovannoni spoke about the importance of a strong cognitive reserve. Watch presentation here

Dr Brian Sweeney who was up next spoke to us about 'MS Treatments, Current and Emerging'. Dr. Sweeney explained the monitoring process as well as discussing Human Stem Cell Treatment, explaining how it working and noting that it provides hope for the future. Watch presentation here

The attendees then split into smaller groups to attend the workshops being held throughout the afternoon. 

Niamh headed off to Trish O'Sullivan's talk on 'Exercise and its Relationship to Brain Health'. Trish, Senior Physiotherapist in HSE Cork gave an inspirational presentation on the work she has done with a group of people with MS. 

Aoife attended Elaine King's 'Minding Relationships and Promoting Good Communication' - This session focused on the benefits of mindfulness and relaxation. Elaine stated that emotional education needs to be exercised for holistic wellbeing.

After a busy morning of listening, learning and fielding questions from Twitter, we were all ready for our lunch, which certainly set us up for the rest of the day!! 

In the afternoon two more workshops were held. Harriet Doig and Clare Dolan presented 'Employment Matters in MS' in conjunction with showing us the new MS Ireland publications for employees and employers. These guides help to highlight the importance of people with MS being able to continue working. Clare gave examples of how making small adaptations and adjustments early on can keep people in work longer. 

'Tech and Non Tech Ways to Train your Brain' by Emer Duffy - During this session we were treated to a session of chair-based yoga. Emer Duffy spoke about cognition and the need to use the brain to strengthen cognitive reserve, noting that the best way to do this is to challenge your brain! Emer discussed the idea of creating smart goals, which are specific and targeted. A key message was to give your brain a break, and try meditation as a daily tool for brain health. Watch presentation here

Sabina Brennan, Trinity College Dublin - fascinating talk about how we need to keep our brains active... exercise it like any other muscle, to keep it fit and healthy. Sabina advised that everyone must consider brain health - and that challenging the brain and keeping socially engaged is of huge importance. Sabina promoted a general healthy lifestyle to optimise brain health. Watch presentation here

A drumming workshop rounded off the day, giving everyone a chance to release any tensions they had, before setting off on our journey home with a head full of ideas.