November 04, 2006

National Patient Sleep Conference

What I report on here are generally the medical conferences I attend, but the last weekend in October I had the pleasure of participating in something entirely different... the first ever conference on sleep disorders oriented to patients.

The event was organized by Talk About Sleep, an online distributor of CPAP equipment and longtime sponsor of message board support group of the same name.

Our part in the conference was to secure some of speakers for the sleep apnea break out session and to publicize the event broadly. I was fortunate to get David Rapoport to speak. He gave his talk to the apnea patients as well as the sleep techs who there for a continuing medical education program. Also participating was Colleen Bazzani, who is the director of patient education for a large hospital in Minneapolis.

In addition to David and Colleen presenting in the OSA breakout sessions was Sleep Dentist Gail Demko, who provided an excellent overview of oral applicances for the treatment of sleep apnea. Thinking about it now... I realize that what was missing was a presentation on the role of surgery in the treatment of OSA (something to keep in mind for a future conference).

The attendance at the conference was less than what the organizers had hoped for, but those who were there were very interested in learning more about their condition. At the dinner presentation hosted by ResMed, David Rapoport and shared a table with an apnea patient from New England. He was frustrated by the care he was receiving at home and came searching for more information. Knowing more, he could be proactive in his care instead of reactive. Empowerment... that is what it about.

An important example of empowerment was Dr. Matthew Abraham's presentation on understanding your sleep study. Certainly, a presentation like this is a must for any future conference.

The general session on Sunday morning led off with Dr. Dement ( Click here for Dement post from Sleep meeting ). Bill provided an overview of his work in the field of sleep research. It was clear the audience thoroughly enjoyed his talk and there were many lined up for to autograph is his book The Promise of Sleep.

Life is all about serendipity. As I was getting on the elevator at the hotel I met Mark Bronstein, an attorney who would be speaking about sleep disorders and disability on Sunday. Turns out that he answered questions in the Ask the Lawyer column that ran in the earlier incarnation of the ASAA newsletter. I was happy to meet him and we agreed to working together in the future.

It is not for me to judge the first National Patient Sleep Conference... but this I can say - the conference provided an excellent opportunity for motivated patients to learn more about their condition and to share experiences that might not otherwise be able to do on a local level.

I look forward to a future patient conference.

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