The European Society for the Study of Tourette Syndrome (ESSTS) conference took place 7-9th June at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Brussels, Belgium.
Doctors, researchers, scientists and numerous patient associations from different nations took part with 150 attendees from 20 countries present. The conference organisers were delighted by the record-breaking attendance with attendees from Australia, Canada, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, France, Italy, Greece and the Netherlands to name a few.
Another record broken was the number of abstract submissions this year as well as endorsements of the conference by the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS) and the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP). The conference was also graced with the presence of the wonderful Professor Mary Robertson with us on her birthday, the 7th of June – also marked as Tourette Syndrome awareness day!
A meeting of the patient association umbrella called Tics and Tourette Across the Globe (TTAG) also took place as part of the conference event. The support associations discussed collaboration between doctors and patient associations to help support the creation of new associations in countries where none exists.
Although somewhat lacking in participation from Belgian healthcare professionals, the conference was opened with a video message from Hilde Crevits; a Belgian politician from Flanders and member of the Christian Democratic and Flemish party who is currently the Flemish minister of Economy, Innovation, Work, Social Economy and Agriculture.
Amazing add-ons to the conference included a ‘training school’ for clinicians (physicians, psychologists, psychotherapists, nurses, medical students and other professionals) and behavioural therapy for tics training workshops in French and English to cater for as many Belgian healthcare professionals as possible – www.essts.org
There was also patient participation as a British company presented a new technology that seems to be able to significantly reduce tics with brain stimulation via a wristband.
It feels like in Belgium we are very far behind in terms of awareness of Tourette Syndrome and tic disorders including their diagnosis and treatment. So this conference will leave a legacy for years to come which hopefully will highlight the advances that could be made to improve the lives of those with Tourette syndrome in Belgium as well as those around the world.