Dr Simon Hammond says future is in good hands
REVERSING the damage caused by multiple sclerosis (MS) is the next step to curing the disease, according to neurologists studying the disease.
An MS symposium was held at the Greenhouse of Orange on Friday to mark the retirement of Dr Simon Hammond of Central West Neurology and Neurosurgery.
Experts heard from speakers about the rising number of people living with the progressive disease, which involves lesions on the brain and spinal cord, from about 3000 nationwide in 1981 to 20,000 now.
Dr Hammond said the rise was partly because the condition was easier to diagnose with modern technology, but was also a real increase. “[There are] a number of factors that we think are important in raising the risk of acquiring MS in our community, things such as smoking, things such as increasing obesity levels that are clearly having an impact on incidence,” he said. Dr Hammond said addressing poor diet in adolescents would become increasingly important into the future.
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital MS fellow Dr Justin Garber trained in Orange for six months and said while there were 15 therapies to treat MS, they carried their own risk and some cases were still resilient to treatment. “All MS treatments to date have been about reducing the inflammatory nature of the disease so some are immuno-suppressant medications that reduce your immune system – this can stop MS in its path but it can’t actually reverse the damage that’s been done and that is really the next frontier in MS research,” he said. His current research is based on identifying signs of progression in MS, while his PHD research next year will focus on the patients resistant to treatment. Dr Garber said he was impressed with the level of expertise in Orange and he learned about the importance of continuing an interest in research throughout life. “The distances of Australia require that services go to the people because timely efficient medical exposure is what maintains people’s health,” he said.
Dr Hammond said there was only one neurologist in Orange before he set up his practice and one of the most satisfying things about being in a regional area was seeing a wider variety of cases “from the sublime to the ridiculous”. “It’s interesting, our society, the Australia and New Zealand Association of Neurologists, felt that practising neurology outside the big metropolitan area was basically going to be an impossibility, that we would kind of wilt out here because there wouldn’t be enough cases, there wouldn’t be enough to do, but exactly the opposite is true,” he said.
At 70 years old, Dr Hammond said after 40 years in the practice, it was time to move on, tend his garden and travel. “I feel vigorous enough to carry on, but you’ve got to draw a line in the sand somewhere,” he said.
“I hope they will achieve a cure for this condition – the future of neurology is in very good hands.”
Multiple sclerosis neurologist marks retirement with symposium
An Orange neurologist and one of the country’s top multiple sclerosis epidemiologists will mark his retirement on Friday with a symposium dedicated to MS. Dr Simon Hammond, founding neurologist of Orange-based Central West Neurology and Neurosurgery, is retiring later this month after 28 years’ practice.
Dr Hammond said experts needed to understand more about the disease to help people diagnosed to live a mostly normal life span. “We need to keep working to better understand the causes of MS and why the condition is becoming increasingly more frequent,” he said. “Throughout my career, this unpredictable condition has continued to baffle even the brightest of minds working to help those diagnosed with their best management options.”
Dr Hammond said treatment had come a long way during his career, with more than 10 medications supported by the PBS. “Still, there is much work to do and important areas such as developing biomarkers of disease activity including advanced MRI techniques and permanently inducing immune tolerance to the central nervous System are being discussed at this conference,” he said. “At present, treatment with most drugs is thought to be needed lifelong and the disease often starts in young adults, particularly in young women.”
Fellow neurologist, colleague and MS researcher from the University of Sydney, Professor Simon Hawke, will bring together the nation’s foremost MS experts to discuss the issues affecting the MS population in Australia.
The symposium will boast some of the country’s best minds currently working to diagnose and treat MS and improve outcomes for patients. Speakers include neurologist professors James McLeod, John Pollard, Con Yiannikas, and Georges Grau, associate professors Suzanne Hodgkinson, Michael Barnett and Scott Byrne. MS researchers Justin Garber, Mahtab Ghadhiri, Karen Ribbons and Felix Marsh-Wakefield will also be talking about their work.
The symposium will be held at The Greenhouse of Orange from 9am-5pm.
A valedictory dinner will be held in honour of Dr Hammond at 7pm.
We are pleased to announce that we are now offering cognitive assessments and psychological services at Central West Neurology & Neurosurgery.
Perri is experienced in the assessment, diagnosis and evidence-based treatment of a wide range of psychological disorders including depression, mood disorders, anxiety and addiction. Perri is also trained in neuropsychological assessment for concerns including memory loss, dementia, brain injury or intellectual impairments. These may be for clinical, educational or medico-legal purposes.
Perri is a registered Medicare Practitioner and rebates are available for patients referred under the Better Access Initiative as part of a Mental Health Treatment Plan. Please contact our rooms if you would like to make an appointment with Perri, or if you would like further information.
Daffodil Day Fundraising
Fundraising for Cancer Council in August with our own beautiful yellow daffodil Sandy.
Sandy Ostini raising funds for Cancer Council with Meg, Katrina, Amber, Kay and Dr Simon Hammond.
We now offer this new treatment for patients with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis. Alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) is a powerful newly available disease modifying therapy for MS that re-focuses the immune system away from attacking the brain in fashion similar to stem cell transplantation.
Please contact Annabel Grant, our MS Nurse for more information, or speak to your neurologist.
As Parkinson's Disease progresses, symptoms become more unpredictable and oral medications become less effective. Duodopa is levodopa-carbidopa in the form of an intestinal gel for daytime continuous infusion. This advanced treatment involves a surgical procedure to insert a tube into the stomach for delivery of Duodopa via a portable pump into the small intestine.
For more information, please contact our PD Nurse, Meg Reeves, or speak to your neurologist.
Parkinson's Disease treatment boosts quality of life for Yvonne
BETTER TREATMENT: Parkinson's Disease patient Yvonne McConnell, her daughter Cheryl McConnell, support nurse Meg Reeves, Parkinson's NSW chief executive Miriam Dixon and Professor Simon Hawke.