Nigel presidents letter             Dear Readers

Our Living with MS conference was held as usual on the first Saturday of May, MS Awareness Month, and was a huge success; we had four excellent speakers and everyone who attended rated it very highly.  Many attendees said it was the best conference we had held because its focus was on practical information and tips for living better with MS. The four speakers were;

Jessica Gray: Wife and mum with MS, Ambassador for MS Australia and disabled Athlete who represented Australia in the 2014 Commonwealth Para-Games where she came 4th in weight-lifting.  Jess gave an inspirational talk about the impact that MS had on her life both negative and positive; the devastating impact of relapses and how MS had changed her.  She said she felt that had it not been for MS she might not now be married with a son and would probably never have taken up weightlifting. Now Jess is committed to her role as an athlete to help raise the profile of women in sport, especially disabled sport, and help encourage other people in the community to pursue their dreams even if they too have a disability.

Ass. Prof Ingrid van der Mei: from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research in Hobart and Director of The Australian MS Longitudinal Study (AMSLS), was the second speaker.  She spoke about the outcomes and future directions of the AMSLS which has now been running for 13 years and has over 3,500 active MS participants. She described how the findings of the AMSLS have helped people with MS, and about itsfuture research directions including the long-term tracking of participant outcomes.  Prof van der Mei also discussed the new longitudinal study of Primary Progressive MS.  It was very clear from her presentation that the Australian MS Longitudinal Studycan continue to help to improve health and modernise patient care for Australians with MS.

Dr. Sally Shaw BSc., Grad Dip Psych., Dip Psych (Health); Melbourne based psychologist currently working at the Eastern Health Multiple Sclerosis Service and in private practice. Sally works with clients to help them cope with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis; her presentation was full of practical advice about how people might cope better with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and increase their ability to be strategic and move forward in life.  She touched on principles of effective stress management incorporating elements from both Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.  Sally finished by challenging audience members to take home some homework which could help them start thinking about the 'red flags' in their life.

Sharon Strugnell, CEO of BrainLink Services; who spoke about how important carers are, how best to support them and about emergency planning by carers and why this is important.  She provided very many practical tips about how to be prepared for the unexpected.  Sharon’s presentation was especially moving and powerful because she extensively illustrated it by describing her own personal experience as a carer”

We are already planning the 2017 conference which will be held on Saturday May 6th; put it in your diary now. 

And don’t forget we will have an interesting speaker at our AGM on Monday 14th November 2016.

Changing the subject completely I recently attended a presentation by access comm about the CapTel Captioned telephone, this is a telephone especially designed for people with hearing difficulties with volume and tone controls and a caption screen.  It is a phone which has changed the life of many people with hearing difficulty and what is more it is available through a government sponsored program and is therefore very low cost.  If you or someone close to you suffers hearing difficulties I recommend you find out more about this at www.accesscomm.com.au.  or phone 1300 107 546.

Take care

Nigel Caswell - President

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