Patient Empowerment Day – The Highlights!

Patient Empowerment Day – The Highlights!

Our Patient Empowerment Day, held in association with Parkinson’s Movement, an initiative of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust turned out to be a great success and was enjoyed by all. If you were there, we hope that you learned a little something that will help you improve your quality of life. If you couldn’t make it, here are a few of the highlights from the day…

The day started off with Warren Fox, chairperson of Move4Parkinson’s going through some basic housekeeping rules, even though we weren’t on an airplane.

Our host for the day was the wonderful, yet totally organised Emma Stokes (Vice President of the World Confederation of Physiotherapy), who introduced the “Rhythm of Life” event and made sure the day’s schedule was adhered to.

She introduced Mags, who as founder of Move4Parkinson’s welcomed everyone to the event and spoke about her own journey with Parkinson’s. As the crowd listened to her own inspirational story, Mags showed a video of herself during one of her off periods. 
Our first keynote speaker was Professor Bas Bloem, who is a Dutch neurologist and leading advocate for participatory medicine. He spoke about the need for change in the world of healthcare and how doctors needed to change from acting as Gods to being helpful like guides. You can see his video “From God to Guide” on our video page.

Finally, he showed us his sense of humour and humility by wearing his Bloomsday hat and at the end of his speech, taking it off in respect of the people with Parkinson’s.

Bas was followed by Tom Isaacs, President and Co Founder of The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. Having lived with Parkinson’s for 17 years, his optimism and positive attitude can only be admired as he entertained the audience with his witty yet inspiring speech. He started off by saying that the Aviva Stadium was not a great place for an Englishman with a nervous disorder to be. During his speech, he spoke about his own experiences with Parkinson’s as well as his hopes for the future, including Tommy’s Top 10 Tips for living with Parkinson’s. 

But by the time he had finished his speech, he had left the audience with a renewed sense of hope and smiles on their faces. His final words left the audience wanting more when he said “The final thing, and I’m sure I speak for everyone with Parkinson’s here, I hope that I never get an attack of the shakes in a fine art auction room”!!

After a short break, the audience came back to their seats for an interactive debate entitled “The Ingredients for a better quality of life”. But first, Eli Pollard spoke for a few minutes about the next World Parkinson’s Congress, which will be held in Montreal in October 2013. The debate was chaired by Paul De Roos MD, a Dutch doctor and the panel included two physiotherapists (Grainne McKeown and Josefa Domingos) and three people with Parkinson’s (Margaret Mullarney, Andrew Curran and Sara Riggare). Each of the panelists spoke about their own experiences with Parkinson’s and then questions and comments were welcomed from the audience.

When the debate finished, Fiona Shannon and Patricia O’Connor led a short seated yoga session to give the audience a little taster of what yoga is like. It involved some breathing and simple stretches which the audience took an active role in.
The audience then left for a light lunch and readied their lungs for some singing action led by American speech and language therapist Jennifer Grundulis. She explained the benefits of singing for people with Parkinson’s and then got the audience involved as she got everyone singing along to the song “Something Inside So Strong”. That was a very powerful and moving session as the audience all stood up and joined in.
After the highs of all singing together, the audience then listened to three speakers talk about different perspectives on Parkinson’s research. This was led by David Hegarty (physiotherapist) and Jon Stamford (Neuroscientist and Co Founder of Parkinson’s Movement). There was also a brief talk given by Dr. Mark Frasier from the Michael J. Fox Foundation about clinical trials and the importance of people to volunteer for these trials.
We had another short break during which time, there was a “supporting the supporters” session led by Aisling Curtin, counselling psychologist. This looked at ways in which family members and carers of people with Parkinson’s could better understand how to deal with the affects of this condition. 
Our final talk of the day was given by Padraig O’Morain, counsellor and journalist who spoke about how mindfulness can enhance your daily life. It was a very relaxing and appropriate session to finish a great day’s event. Padraig engaged the audience with some tips on how to practice mindfulness at home.
To finish the day, Mags thanked everyone for their contribution and spoke about her own hope for the future of Move4Parkinson’s as it goes forward in trying to educate and empower people with Parkinson’s to improve their quality of life.
So, from me, I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who took part in the day, especially all the speakers, volunteers and various staff. I’m not going to name you all, but you know who you are so thank you. However, there is one person in particular I have to thank, whose efforts on the day allowed me to put this blog together and that is the wonderful photographer Emily Quinn, whose photos captured the moments better than any words could ever describe. Thank you Emily!

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