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The 33rd Guttmann Meeting was held at the Lion Quays Hotel, Oswestry recently, sponsored by Brethertons. This year the Midland Centre For Spinal Cord Injuries were hosting – celebrating 50 years as a specialist centre assisting people with spinal cord injuries.
This annual conference, established in the name of ‘Poppa’ Guttmann who practiced at Stoke Mandeville, is for spinal cord injury specialists to gather together to share and learn from each other about best practice in all the different facets of spinal cord injury medicine and care.
At the conference, not even the referendum, Brexit or the Prime Minister’s resignation had much of an impact in distracting proceedings over the two days of discussion, dinner (plus quiz!) and conference.
As with all conferences as much as the conference sessions themselves are important, the meetings and conversations that are had around the conference are often every bit as important.
We were pleased to be able to sponsor proceedings. Catching up with familiar faces, connecting with old and new contacts and friends was a genuine pleasure.
Conversations with people who are at the top of their field are always stimulating. This year the conversations I had, included topics as diverse as rehabilitation and psychology post spinal cord injury; rehabilitation and the longer term for those with cauda equina syndrome and other spinal cord injury ‘walkers’; niches within spinal cord injury; offsite rehabilitation before discharge and the Brethertons supported project at the National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville; the Guttmann Poster Competition (see below).
I also found myself in conversations including (my favourite) ‘solicitors aren’t all bad are they?!’; statistics and blame cultures – myth and reality; speech and language therapy for ventilated patients - different practices and different problems; the perhaps surprising diversity and difference of approaches around the country in lots of different areas of medicine; spinal cord injury outside of trauma centres and specialist rehabilitation centres.
Several conversations touched on ‘Black Box Thinking’ as an approach for developing better practice in all sorts of different arenas. Then there was time for discussion on wheelchair design and manufacture; the charitable sector and its evolving priorities; wider NHS trust management approaches and priorities; health and safety in spinal cord injury rehabilitation; and the relationships between medico-economics, medico-politics and medico-legal issues.
All told, as is often the case at these gatherings, the sense of community around shared goals and the common aim of helping the same group of people in our different ways was never far from the surface. #TogetherStronger – as a national football team I have a particular affinity for, often say.