Conference brings hope to MS patients
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 19, 2012 11:23 am
Multiple Sclerosis patients who have been told their conditions will only get worse may have renewed hope.
More than a dozen physicians, dentists, chiropractors and optometrists from around the world are meeting in Okotoks at the end of the month to discuss research, education and potential treatments for major neurodegenerative illnesses.
Okotoks dentist Dr. David Williams, who is one of the organizers of the conference, said the panel of international experts will shed some light on the health issues surrounding illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
“Its been said you have to be careful not to give the patients false hope,” he said. “There is no such thing as false hope. If we can question we can have grounds for new hope for the patients and we are going to find the answers.”
Italian researcher Dr. Paolo Zamboni discovered Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI), a condition where the veins in the neck and chest narrow, reducing the amount of blood draining from the brain and restricting oxygen levels in vital brain tissues.
The condition has since been linked to neurological diseases such as MS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Irritable Bowl Syndrome, dementia, migraines, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia.
“We’ve got to find out why the blood vessels are blocking,” said Williams, who is researching ways to treat the condition through dentistry due to the vessels’ proximately to the jaw. “If we can come out of this with some really powerful questions that can be answered I think we are very close to unraveling MS as well as multiple others.”
Medical professionals from across Canada came together two years ago to form the non-profit National CCSVI Society to look into the issue further. They held their first conference in British Columbia a year ago.
“The new discovery of CCSVI itself has been very controversial,” Williams said. “What that does is it opens up the conversation about what exactly is going on with neurological illness to more than just the neurological community.”
Some headway has been made since the discovery of CCSVI, including an angioplasty procedure that widens the blood vessels, with dramatic results, said Williams.
“Some patients who have had the surgery are completely normal now,” he said. “That gives us hope. The fact that a lot of them have gone backwards and are worse off allows us to ask more questions and keep digging deeper.”
That’s where the Okotoks conference, called Exploring Frontiers in Neurovascular Health, comes in, said Williams.
“I’d like to see more people asking questions, real serious questions about what could be going on,” he said. “The more people that ask questions the sooner we will find the answers.”
Bringing medical professionals from a variety of fields under the same roof is one way of looking at CCSVI from a variety of perspectives, said Williams.
“Groups within a field don’t look over the fence and see what other practitioners or researchers are doing in another field,” he said. “That’s what we are doing here.”
Medical professionals aren’t the only ones who could hold the key to advancements in treatment. Williams said they are also inviting community members from the area, including patients suffering from neurodegenerative illnesses, to attend the conference.
“I’m looking for creative synergy,” he said. “I’m hoping somebody will be sitting in the conference who sees something we all missed.”
Williams said he hopes the conference will clarify the direction medical professionals need to take to address the condition.
“We hope to see some serious advances, some exciting developments with regards to helping these people live a normal life,” he said.
People who attend the conference will have an opportunity to discuss treatments and research with experts and try some of the technology on display.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Kenneth Mandato of New York, is the leading researcher for the Saskatchewan government’s CCSVI clinical treatment trial, where venous angioplasty is being used to treat patients with major neurodegenerative illnesses.
Exploring Frontiers in Neurovascular Health will take place at the Okotoks Centennial Centre on Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information or to purchase tickets, at a cost of $50, go to www.nationalccsvisociety.org