On Saturday Nov. 25, we wrapped up the 2nd Annual Canadian Movement Disorders Meeting in Toronto, Ontario. Hosted by Parkinson Canada and the Canadian Movement Disorders Society, this two-day event featured researchers, movement disorder specialists, general neurologists, resident physicians, scientists, and advocates from across the country, coming together for the second time ever in Canada.
The conference featured a stimulating schedule, including experts presenting the latest breakthroughs in Parkinson’s and other movement disorders. It was also marked by a series of engaging panel discussions, where researchers, clinicians, and people living with Parkinson’s discussed some of the biggest questions surrounding movement disorders in the field today.
One such panel examined healthcare, focusing on the best path forward to ensuring adequate access to care. Panelists debated the best treatment modalities that our publicly funded system should focus on, resulting in some excellent and lively discussions featuring differing viewpoints. Conversations surrounding data also took place, with some panelists suggesting the implementation of new tools to allow better tracking of Parkinson’s disease. From this discussion there were musings on the possible creation of a public database in which physicians could record statistics surrounding diagnoses. This might allow researchers access to important aggregate data to help them track movement disorders in the population.
It’s clear that collaboration was an important theme of the conference. Researchers often interact indirectly through their studies, but events such as the Canadian Movement Disorders Meeting provides them with a unique opportunity to interact face-to-face, network and learn together. Throughout the two days, countless new connections were made that will advance research and care for people living with Parkinson’s.
The conference also heard from many people living with Parkinson’s, reinforcing the importance of why we undertake this important work. It isn’t about the disease, but rather the person living with the disease to whom we dedicate our efforts. Hearing the human stories at the heart of these scientific pursuits helps to remind us of that. One could not help but be moved by the candid sharing of personal experiences, shedding light on the everyday realities of living with movement disorders.
Another recurring theme that became evident is the importance of advocacy. We cannot take for granted that the needs of people with Parkinson’s are known to policymakers. The discussions underscored the necessity for those within the community to raise their voices, amplified by organizations such as Parkinson Canada, and ensuring that the path to improved care is informed by those it aims to serve.
As the final day came to a close, the sense of community and shared purpose was palpable throughout the room. This event wasn’t just a scientific conference; it was a confluence of personal journeys, collective experiences, and a shared mission to better understand and treat Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.
Parkinson Canada looks forward to being a partner and host of such collaborative endeavours into the future. We’ll continue working towards a future without Parkinson’s disease, and until that day is realized, a world where everyone with Parkinson’s can thrive. Events such as the Canadian Movement Disorders Meeting are integral in these efforts.