2009 Fall Conference Wrap-Up - "Living Well"
When over one hundred Maritimers decended upon the Atlantica Hotel, in Halifax on October 23 and 24, it was to learn of the latest on Parkinson's research, treatment, and therapies, and to take advantage of the oppportunity to discuss what it means to live well, when facing such a diagnosis.
The 2009 Fall Conference featured a diverse selection of presenters.
On Friday afternoon, movement disorder specialist Dr. Kerrie Schoffer, Parkinson's physiotherapist Janet Millar and VON outreach nurse Sheree Trecartin addressed a group of health care professionals, caregivers, and people living with Parkinson's. Their aim was to provide the latest on Parkinson's care, with an aim to ease the burden faced by caregivers.
That evening saw motivational speaker Peter Davison take the stage. Peter discussed the physical, mental, emotional and spritual dimensions of living well, before handing the reins to Halifax musician Andrew Tynes. Tynes soundtracked the evening festivities, which incuded an art expo, featuring works of eight different artists from across the region, and a wellness fair, where select organizations and companies showcased information, serives and products avaialble to Maritimers.
Saturday returned the focus to the speakers. Dalhousie Professor Emeritus Dr. Harold Robertson, led the day with the Novartis Keynote Address. Robertson focused on the prospects and challenges facing stem cell researchers today, and helped break down the wealth of information on the topic into meaningful, understandable terms.
Follwing Dr. Robertson were Dr. Bryan Rade, ND, and Catherine Walker and Jen Loane from the Halifax Dance Association. The former introduced the audience to naturopathic medicine, and revealed how one might complement his or her Parkinson's drugs with natural therapies. The latter demonstrated a selection of basic-yet-challenging dance techniques, that really got people swinging.
The busy morning was wrapped with the Vogue Optical 2009 Awards Luncheon. Awards were presented to Peggy McNair, in recognition "invaluable volunteer contributions," Connie MacMillan, "for demonstration of exemplary leadership," and Deby Siemens, "for going beyond the call of duty to further the understanding of Parkinson's and to support those who live with the disease." A new award was also presented to PSMR board member, Bob Shaw. The Exceptional Fundraising award recognized Bob for his dedication to raising money for helping those in our region living with Parkinson's.
Yet there was still more to come...
Quebec's Dr. Louis Tremblay outlined the benefits of using Nintendo's Wii Fit program for rehabilitation in the first of the afternoon sessions, while Rev. Dr. Jody Clarke explored spirtuality, and the trials that often come that come when facing diagnosis of a chronic condition.
After a short break, attendees gathered for a perennial favourite of the annual conference: the personal story session. This year, Cumberland County's Douglas Oulton, along with spouse Pam, and children Christian, Rebecca, Sarah and Nathan took to the stage to share their thoughts and experiences with Parkinson's disease. For many, this proved the highlight of the day. To all who had the pleasure of hearing their story, it was evident that love, support, caring, and a healthy sense of humor characterized an ordinary day with the Oulton family.
Closing the conference was the speaker panel discussion, which saw the return of Dr. Harold Robertson and Dr. Bryan Rade. Joining them were Barbara Snelgrove, Director of Educaiton and Support Services at Parkinson Society Canada, as well as longtime PSMR guru Dr. George Turnbull. Each took the time to field an array of questions from the audience, and provided thoughtful and insightful information on Parkinson's.
What does it mean to "live well?" To share in each other's company, to expand one's mind, and to take in all that those living and working with Parkinson's disease have to offer each and every day.