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Parkinson's - expecting the unexpected

Seventh Annual Edmond J Safra Memorial Lecture - ‘Parkinson's- expecting the unexpected: How can practitioners best prepare and support patients and their families?’ 

On Monday 25th November 2013, Professor of Palliative Care, Irene Higginson, took part in the seventh annual Edmond J Safra memorial lecture at the Strand Campus, alongside Professor of Neuropsychiatry, Anthony David, Sir David Penry-Davey, and Mr Tom Isaacs. The lecture was opened by the Principal, Professor Sir Rick Trainor.

This dynamic panel discussion event was entitled ‘Parkinson's- expecting the unexpected: How can practitioners best prepare and support patients and their families?’. Each of the four panel members delivered a brief presentation. The first two speakers, Mr Tom Isaacs and Sir David Penry-Davey, gave personal accounts of being diagnosed with, and living with, Parkinson’s disease, sharing their experiences through their honest, heartfelt and often amusing accounts. They talked of the experience of being told their diagnosis, as well as the impact of the disease upon them and their families. 

The final two presentations were by Professors Anthony David and Irene Higginson who spoke of the research into Parkinson’s disease that is being carried out across KHP. Professor David described a trial of CBT for Impulse Control Behaviours affecting people with Parkinson’s disease, which was found to be associated with improvement in symptom severity, as well as reductions in anxiety and depression. He also spoke of the challenges of maintaining funding for such therapies. 

Professor Higginson described the different strands of research carried out at the Cicely Saunders Institute, including: research to explore the palliative care needs of people with Parkinson’s disease, as well as Multiple System Atrophy and Progressive Supranucleur Palsy, a study trialing early palliative care for people with MS, a trial of a complex intervention to improve breathlessness, as well as plans for a future study to explore further the impact of early palliative care for people with neurological conditions. After the final presentation there was a panel discussion, chaired by Professor Sir Robert Lechler.

This fascinating and dynamic event highlighted the importance of continued research into the needs of those with long term neurological conditions, and the need for treatments that are reactive, individually tailored and person centred. In addition, it showcased the outstanding collaborative work carried out across KHP, as well as the importance of effective and widespread dissemination.