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Michael Kutcher (Ashton’s twin) receives Academy Award!

Okay, so it wasn't a Motion Picture Academy Award, but it was still very significant. At the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (AACPDM) last week in Toronto, Michael Kutcher received the Cathleen Lyle Murray Humanitarian Award for his work as a national cerebral palsy advocate with Reaching for the Stars (RFTS), an internationally recognized advocacy and research organization started by, and for, the parents of children with cerebral palsy (CP). Michael himself has mild CP, and while he never let this distract him or prevent him from living his own life to its fullest, he came to understand the value and importance of his working on behalf of others with CP who are not as able to speak or act on their own behalf. Michael is most deserving of his Academy Award.

Michael is a 20 plus year survivor of a heart transplant, something he related to us during the lecture associated with his award. He has done advocacy work to raise awareness of the need for organ donors as well.

Michael's lecture came on the final day of a very successful AACPDM meeting. Highlights of the meeting include:

  • The passing of the gavel from now past president Joseph Dutkowsky, MD to the current President, Maureen O’Donnell, MD, MSc, FRCPC.

Everyone with whom I spoke agreed that Joe did a fantastic job in 2010/2011, and Maureen takes over a very healthy and vibrant Academy full of hope for another amazing year of progress.

  • Presidential Guest Lectureship - W. Thomas Boyce, MD: The Biology of Misfortune: How Social Stratification, Sensitivity and Stress Diminish Child Health and Development

Dr Boyce made the case that stratification, innate (biological) sensitivity, and stress combine to diminish human health and development. A longer version of the lecture is available here.

  • Mac Keith Press Basic Science Lectureship – Michael Fehlings, MD:Targeting Cerebral Palsy with Neural Stem Cells

Dr Fehlings provided a message of hope together with a dose of reality regarding the possibility of improvements in function through stem cell treatments for children and adults with brain or spinal cord injuries. The most promising experimental treatments to date involve attempts to stimulate re-myelination in spinal cord injury. Such treatments also offer hope for certain types of damaged brain cells. The sobering note is that a broad scale rebuilding or replacement of damaged brain cells and the restoration of pre-injury function is a very long way off and certainly not imaginable given any treatment currently under study . Learn more here.

  • Chambers Family Lifespan Lectureship – Ian Brown:Children with rare conditions: A father’s perspective.

Ian Brown's lecture was a poignant tale of the heartbreaking blow of first learning that his son, Walker, had a rare and complex genetic condition that would affect him for the rest of his life, and the courageous and sometimes humorous journey upon which he and his family embarked to find meaning in his son's life. I cannot possibly do this story justice, but would encourage everyone to read his book The Boy in the Moon, one of the New York Times ten best books for 2011. Outside the hall after the lecture, it seemed like half the audience was in line to buy the book, and I imagine everyone else was planning to order it online.

  • Guest Lectureship – Michael Evans, MD:New Media, New Ways of Being a Patient, New Ways of Being a Caregiver: Can we pull it together?

Dr Evans has an intriguing way of delivering health information to patients. One widely viewed example is his video 23 1/2 Hours, which at the time of this writing had been viewed by nearly three million people on Youtube and had a like:dislike ratio of 111:1. His web site, My Favorite Medicine, has a great deal of valuable information for care givers and patients interested in improving health and health outcomes.

These are only a few of the highlights from the 2012 AACPDM Meeting. I have not even touched on the myriad scientific posters and presentations, or the instructional courses that took place. The full program is available here, and soon the compilation of abstracts will be available from the journal DMCN.

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