Experts go online for world's biggest Parkinson's summit

Parkinson's experts share tips online at Insight 2020

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Neurological physiotherapist Melissa McConaghy.

Neurological physiotherapist Melissa McConaghy.


Insight 2020 will discuss everything from exergaming to ending Parkinson's disease.


THE WORLD may be in the middle of a coronavirus lockdown right now, but that hasn't stopped an army of Parkinson's experts getting together for a global online conference.

Everything from exergaming to putting an end to Parkinson's disease (PD) will be on the table at Insight 2020 - world's largest virtual PD summit, organised by Australian neurological physiotherapist Melissa McConaghy.

The three-day free online event, on until Friday April 3, is aimed at people living with Parkinson's as well as loved ones and health professionals.

It gives event attendees the opportunity to learn about a range of topics from a line up of world-class speakers.

Around 37 Australians are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease every day, and the rate is increasing around 4 per cent every year.

Working with people with Parkinson's for over 18 years, Ms McConaghy - co-founder of Parkinson's rehab exercise program PD Warrior - is passionate about shedding light on the topic of Parkinson's and creating a global support system.

"Parkinson's is the fastest growing brain disorder in the world, and INSIGHT 2020 provides that informational space for experts in the field to share industry insights and their stories while also creating a sense of community for those who are touched by PD," said Ms McConaghy.

Combining live panels and sessions, people can consume the content from their comfort of their own home, 24 hours a day.

Speakers include internationally acclaimed neurologist and best-selling author Dr David Perlmutter and two-time Olympic athlete Roberto Carcelén

Two of the authors of the new book Ending Parkinson's Disease - American neurologist Ray Dorsey and Dutch neurologist Dr Bastiaan Bloem - will also be sharing their insights in how to prevent Parkinson's, improve care and treatment.

"This book is very exciting as it is the first book to discuss the fact that Parkinson's may in fact be a man-made disease and therefore be preventable," said Ms McConaghy.

"Their argument is that Parkinson's is driven by strong environmental factors such as pesticides and toxins and that underpins the increasing rates of Parkinson's disease in industrialised nations like Australia.

"They are calling the Parkinson's community together for a global response to help eradicate Parkinson's."

One of the other key areas of research being covered at the conference will be the critical role exercise plays for people living with Parkinson's.

"As it stands, there is no disease-modifying medication available to slow Parkinson's down. The best evidence we have for this is exercise," said Ms McConaghy.

"Exercise is incredibly powerful when combined with specific strategies to help brain cells talk to each other better and generate more protective factors in the brain.

"As an example, walking around the block is great for general health but this would not be considered helpful to slow the brain deterioration down. Exercise needs to be tailored to each person, challenging physically and cognitively, novel, exciting and consistent!"

The role of exergaming in helping with Parkinson's disease symptoms will also be discussed.

"Exergaming is a word used to describe activity that is designed around interactional computer based software to increase motivation and overall dosage of exercise," she said.

This could be, for example, using an exercise bike equipped with screens that allow the rider to play games or 'interact' with the screen. This is designed to rouse their enthusiasm and motivate them while exercising.

"In itself it is not that different to regular therapy, apart from the fact that the level of engagement can be higher with gamification of a similar task," said Ms McConaghy.

Sponsored by Parkinson's Victoria, who are helping make the event free, INSIGHT 2020 will run from April 1-3. Registration is free, click HERE

Participants can upgrade to stream on-demand for 30 extra days, for $99. All ticket profits go to registered charity partners to support Parkinson's research and global services.