Conference Provides Updates for MDA Clinic Team Members

The 2012 MDA Clinical Conference, held in Las Vegas March 4 -7, gave more than 500 attendees an opportunity to learn from top experts about the latest advances in diagnosis, medical management and emerging therapies for neuromuscular diseases.

The conference was designed to provide MDA clinic directors and clinic team members with updates covering a number of diseases in MDA’s program, including the muscular dystrophies, inherited neuropathies, motor neuron diseases and immune-modulated neuromuscular diseases. MDA maintains some 200 medical clinics (including 41 MDA/ALS centers) across the country.

About half the conference participants were physicians from such specialties as neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, cardiology and pulmonology. Participants also included nurses, nurse practitioners, therapists, genetic counselors, social workers and MDA health care service coordinators.

Held at the South Point Hotel, the conference was co-chaired by longtime MDA clinic directors and research grantees Jerry Mendell, of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and Michael Shy, of University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

In 33 presentations over two-and-a-half days, participants learned about recent advances in:

  • genetics and neuromuscular diseases;
  • the immune system and neuromuscular diseases;
  • best practices in the care of people with neuromuscular diseases (including bone health, foot care, weight maintenance, respiratory care, exercise, maximizing independence and palliative care);
  • psychosocial services for young adults (ages 16-35) transitioning from pediatric to adult care; and
  • the status of promising new therapies now in development.

More specifics about these presentations will be posted on MDA’s website during the coming weeks.

Four individuals posted daily blogs about the proceedings, which are available on the conference blog page. These blogs provide an overview of several of the lectures, as well as personal perspectives.

Bloggers included:

  • Paul Muhlrad, MDA's director of basic research, who blogged about current research;
  • Jane Larkindale, MDA's director of translational research, who covered new developments in clinical care;
  • Angela Wrigglesworth, an elementary teacher from Houston with spinal muscular atrophy, who provided personal reflections; and
  • Vance Taylor, a homeland security expert from Alexandria, Va., with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, who also blogged from his perspective as a person with a neuromuscular disease.

News from the meeting was posted on MDA’s Facebook page and Twitter account (#MDACC).

This is the second conference in MDA's new annual national conference series, which was launched with the Association's Scientific Conference in March 2011.

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