Health Professionals (Non-Physician)

Health Professionals (Non-Physician) Special Interest Group
meets to set plans in motion for 2012 and beyond


By Mariella Graziano, BSc (Hons), Luxembourg
MDS Health Professionals (Non-Physician) Special Interest Group

July 2012


Mariella GrazianoThe 16th International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders successfully took place in Dublin, Ireland with encouraging outcomes for all health professionals. Our Special Interest Group (SIG) organizational meeting was well attended by nurses, physiotherapists, occupational and speech therapists, medical practitioners as well as other health professionals.

Prof. Lynn Rochester, UK, presented a transformational evidence based framework for the physical therapies in Parkinson's, highlighting the need to consider the interplay between motor and nonmotor symptoms when planning a physiotherapy program. Prof. Rochester showed that whilst evidence for some strategies, exercises and physical activity programs is established, the validity of some interventions requires confirmation. One of the present challenges is to identify the dose and intensity of physical activities and exercises according to disease stage, age, medication status, social situation and co-morbidities. Her inspiring presentation showed that clinical research in this domain is rapidly advancing and clinical guidelines need to be updated to keep pace with emerging evidence.

Dr. Lisette Bunting-Perry and Ms. Gwyn Vernon, of the US, delivered a lively dual presentation on the Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program. This initiative was launched in 2009 with funding from the Edmond J. Safra Foundation. The goal is to infuse knowledge into undergraduate schools of nursing. The model is based on the concept of "train the trainer" and fills a knowledge gap identified by a 2008 national survey of top US Schools of Nursing.

All three presenters are featured in a video on the Health Professionals' webpage at

The Dublin Congress included a number of international standard plenary sessions, parallel sessions and workshops run by nurses, allied health professionals and other members of our special interest group. We were proud to hear the excellent presentations from our members, including: Prof. Fay Horak, Prof. Lynn Rochester, Prof. Alice Nieuwboer, Dr. Marten Munneke, Mr. Steve Smith, Mr. Brian Magennis, and others. These were of a very high standard and highly relevant to clinical practice.

Health professional poster presentations at the Dublin MDS conference were also numerous and well attended. Abstracts pertaining to genetics, gait-balance-exercise, quality of life, models of care, speech/swallowing, cognition-neuropsychology and psychiatry are available on the Movement Disorders Journal website (

A large number of health professional participants attended the pre-Congress activities which took place on June 16. One such event, the Bloomsday Basic Movement Disorders Course, drew 71 family physicians, general neurologists, trainees, nurses, physiotherapists and other health professionals. The aim of this particular course was to offer basic understanding of movement disorders and provide a foundation for participants, who were also attending the Congress the following week.

Another well-attended course, which attracted physiotherapists from across Ireland, was "Multidisciplinary Management of Atypical Parkinsonism Including Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), Multisystem Atrophy (MSA), Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD) and Lewy Body Dementia (LBD)." It was organized by the Chartered Physiotherapists in Neurology and Gerontology (CPNG) together with The Association of Physiotherapists in Parkinson's disease in Europe (APPDE).

It is encouraging to see the increasing presence and contribution of Health Professionals (Non-Physician) at the MDS annual Congress. Please take a few minutes to complete the Needs Assessment Survey accessible on the MDS website ( This will allow us to get to know you better and how best meet your professional needs.