Global 'Brain Trust' to Probe Complex Cases at Movement Disorders Event

Alberto Espay, MD, MSc, a rising global star, is Symposium Director for an international educational event for clinicians on May 15. Photo by Cindy Starr / Mayfield Clinic.

In Dr. Alberto Espay’s hands, good ideas just keep getting better. A specialist at the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, one of four institutes of the UC College of Medicine and UC Health, Dr. Espay has elevated an educational concept called Movement Disorders Video Rounds from an institutional event to one that is regional, national and now international. On May 15, clinical experts from six countries will arrive in Cincinnati for the first Unusual Movement Disorders Marathon Symposium. For established neurologists and those in training, the symposium will distill into five hours lessons that normally might take a lifetime to learn.

During the symposium, which is targeted to clinicians, 12 professors will each present one of the most challenging cases of their careers. A group of three internationally known specialists with no prior knowledge of the cases will then discuss them and – theoretically – will arrive at the correct diagnoses and optimal treatment plans. Those in the audience will have a rare educational opportunity to experience dialogues about cases that they might see but not recognize as distinct diseases.

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Dr. Espay, Symposium Director and a rising star internationally, describes his speakers as “a collective brain trust” that will present challenging cases “in a format that would be most instructive and deliver the highest yield of clinical pearls to trainees, physicians in our community, and neurologists interested in movement disorders.”

The cases themselves, Dr. Espay said, provided lasting lessons for the professors entrusted in presenting them. “The road to diagnosis and treatment was bumpy, but the bumps themselves represented educational opportunities for these professors that they feel are worth disseminating.”

“We will also learn how an expert addresses a complex situation that may take months or even years for someone else in the community. Our international experts are naive to these cases. The gift to the audience is seeing these experts digest in real time a set of complex information in a manner that leads to a focused work-up, a final diagnosis and, of course, appropriate treatment.”

At the end of each discussion, the original presenter will describe his or her own findings and share his own lessons learned.

Each case presentation will include video, because the visual component is vital in the diagnosis of movement disorders. A sampling of presentations include: “A Young Woman with a Long History of Shaking,” “Losing the Mind and then Gaining it Back,” and “The Man who Couldn’t Refrain from Coughing.”

Dr. Espay, Associate Professor of Neurology at UC and the Gardner Center’s Director of Clinical Research, began bi-monthly video rounds at UC seven years ago, building on an idea that had been used, and then discontinued, by the American Academy of Neurology.  The concept became popular among UC neurologists, fellows and residents and soon grew into a friendly TriState, then TetraState, Video Rounds competition. A national video rounds lecture, led by Dr. Espay and two colleagues, was sold out at the recent American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting.

“We gave our own flavor to this concept, making it not just a challenge but an opportunity to say, ‘What lessons can I take away from this and apply in my practice?’“ Dr. Espay said. “We infused video rounds back into the Academy this year with an overhauled, educationally enhanced Unusual Movement Disorders Symposium.”

Speakers at the Cincinnati symposium, to be held at the Cincinnati Club downtown, will come from throughout the United States as well as Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Italy and Brazil. The expert case discussants are Anthony Lang, MD, of the University of Toronto; Joseph Jankovic, MD, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston; and Kapil Sethi, MD, of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

The international Movement Disorders Society has endorsed the symposium and is so interested in the concept that it has asked Dr. Espay whether he would consider moving the event from Cincinnati and holding it twice a year, once on each coast. To this particular question, Dr. Espay does not yet have an answer.

— Cindy Starr

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