Under this motto almost 400 participants from 4 continents met from May 8th-11th in Hannover, Germany. Together with a faculty of more than 70 world-leading experts from the fields of neurology, neurosurgery, neuropediatric, neurogenetics, basic sciences and allied health sciences this was, again, the leading international dystonia congress.
The congresses emphasised on novel treatments for all forms of dystonia, including botulinum toxin therapy, deep brain stimulation, various behavioural methods and new emerging strategies to improve or even prevent the development of dystonia. The scientific program was intense and lasted 3.5 days. Nine hands-on-workshops and focused lunch time satellite symposia supplemented the conference and contributed to the vivid exchange of ideas. Young scientists had the opportunity to present their work in the poster session and as free oral communications. Several patient organisations displayed their activities. The congress satellite symposium on dystonia in sports was well perceived. In the industry exhibition the latest technology in botulinum toxin drugs and deep brain stimulation could be discussed directly with their manufacturers.
The highlight of the congress was the Keynote Lecture by Alan B Scott and Eric A Johnson on the ‘Invention of the Botulinum Toxin Therapy’. It was the first time that the ‘fathers of botulinum toxin therapy’ appeared on one stage and shared their personal recollections of the early days of botulinum toxin therapy. A video recording of this unique event will be soon made available through IAB – Interdisciplinary Working Group for Movement Disorders (www.iabnetz.de). In a Special Lecture Professor Dirk Dressler gave an insight into ‘Translational Botulinum Toxin Research’. This lecture was marking the 10th anniversary of the founding of Hannover Medical School’s Movement Disorders Section by Professor Dressler.
‘This congress is now firmly established as the central international platform and meeting point for all who care for people with dystonia’ said Professor Dressler on behalf of his co-organisers Professor Altenmüller and Professor Krauss. ‘We are very pleased to see that there is a strong and growing interest in our congress, despite a more and more difficult environment. The field of dystonia needs to be developed further. We need to attract young people and we need new topics so that the field will be fit for the future. I personally see a lot of potential in Asia, both, in our field in general and for our congress’ said Professor Dressler who is currently setting up a botulinum toxin research centre in Shanghai, China.
Last, but not least, Hannover’s famous springtime and the congress’s social events, including the congress dinner in the private moated Castle Hülsede, generated an atmosphere of openness and exchange contributing to the success of the congress.