It’s getting to that time when it’s getting difficult to remember what day it is as we settle into the routine of the Conference. Another awake-in-the-middle-of-the-night episode knocked out the first session for me today. I was keen to attend the “Pause-Relax-Attend: the Mindful Way to Stress Relief” session, but sleep took priority.
So after my breakfast of a croissant and my daily cappuccino at Starbucks, I headed back to the Conference area and started chatting with Joan Toone from PPASS BC, who introduced me to Eric Nduhueze Ufom. Eric currently lives in Houston, Texas, although he is originally from Nigeria, and is very keen to organise an African-specific conference, recruiting post-polio specialists from the USA and Europe to run education sessions for Nigerian and other African medical practitioners. Eric reports that that are absolutely no services or knowledge of post-polio in Nigeria, or across Africa generally. Of course, those of us in the western world would argue the same thing, but as Nigeria is still endemic, they have many young polio survivors who are receiving no intervention or management strategies at all. Sounds like a good idea, but no one is sure how this might be accomplished. Eric will be speaking with PHI to see how such a conference could be progressed, maybe around 2017.
I moved on to the “Maintaining Posture” session which was presented by Holly Wise (a physiotherapist specializing in post-polio) and Dr Carol Vandenakker-Albanese (I introduced Carol in my Day 3 blog post). You know what it’s like when people start talking about posture and you suddenly realise you’re slouching, or that your neck hurts, or something like that? I spent the whole session wriggling in my seat trying to sit ‘properly’. “Maintaining Posture” was a great presentation – here are Holly's Slides and Carol's Slides.
I was able to sit with these women, and a couple of other physiotherapists, at lunch time. They all previously worked together and have kept in touch over the years. And they certainly knew their stuff!
Then it was my turn to sit on a panel with: Mary Gordon, Manager of Volunteer Services and Group Development, March of Dimes, Canada; Jean Graber, Chairperson, Central Kansas Polio Survivors Support Group; Beth Kowall, Secretary, Post-Polio Resource Group of Southeastern Wisconsin; and Micki Minner, Polio Epic Inc, Tucson.
The topic was “Support Groups: What Works” and, although my fellow presenters all had something interesting to say about running their respective support groups, I felt this was the wrong session for my statistical presentation, Retreats and Health Literacy, on the impact of Polio Australia’s Retreats on the health literacy of participants. Anyhow, I had my 15 minutes on the podium and hope that some of the audience found it remotely interesting . . .
My final “Exploring Exercise” sessions were a combination of an introduction to seated Tai Chi and Yoga, followed by all the doctors and physiotherapists working with individuals in the Fitness Centre to show them how they might use various gym machines, weights, and bands. I must say, the bands look particularly useful for strength training, and can be done anytime, anywhere, as long as there is a good, solid door knob, pole, or something to secure the band to. We just need to be very aware of our posture when doing these exercises, which is where an informed physiotherapist is so important.
A number of the presenters who have been here over the past couple of days are leaving early tomorrow, and I was delighted to be invited to join Dr Fred Maynard, his wife Kathy, Sunny Roller, Tai Chi presenter – Ann Williams, and Social Worker – Sandy Loyer, for dinner. To humour me, we drank Australian Shiraz with our dinner. It’s very warm in St Louis, and quite humid, but as the evening darkened, it was perfect weather to take a stroll around the St Louis Arch before heading back to the hotel.
I’m planning to have an excellent sleep tonight so I am wide awake and ready for the final Conference day tomorrow.