Friday, February 25, 2005
AACPDM links Annual Meeting to BrazilBy Luciano S. Dias, MD, President, AACPDM
The American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (AACPDM) held its 2004 annual meeting in Los Angeles last September. And, for the first time ever, a live videoconference of the entire meeting enabled nearly 400 professionals in Brazil to "attend."
The AACPDM annual meeting usually attracts more than 100 international professionals each year. Over the years, we have made many contacts and friendships with these international professionals, particularly in Brazil, which is where I was born. Based on those contacts, the AACPDM decided to try videoconferencing the meeting to two locations in Brazil.
From Los Angeles to Brazil
In Goiania, Dr. Joao Alirio hosted a session at the CRER Rehabilitation Center; host for the other session, in Uberlandia, was Dr. Vincente Maced of the University Hospital School of Medicine/Federal University of Uberlandia. Approximately 380 physicians, physical and occupational therapists, as well as representatives of other disciplines involved in the treatment of the neuromuscular patient, participated.
We were able to convince some local suppliers to support the effort as corporate sponsors. Video-conferencing can be very expensive, but with the help of Joseph Dutkowsky, MD, an AAOS member in Cooperstown, N.Y., we found a way to keep the costs down.
Dr. Dutkowsky operates a clinic in a rural area of upstate New York and regularly uses teleconferencing technology to communicate with other providers, so he already had the technology in place. The annual meeting hotel, Los Angeles' Century Plaza, provided the video equipment and a T-1 land line for our use. Dr. Dutkowsky's hospital served as the "bridge," linking Los Angeles to the two sites in Brazil via IP technology.
The teleconference transmitted real-time images with audio from Los Angeles to Brazil. A remote camera was focused on the speaker's podium, and enabled us to videotape some lectures that could be played during conference "down times." We could also switch the transmission to the speaker's slides directly from the computer (most of the time was spent on the slides).
Transmissions continued for nine or ten hours a day during the two-day meeting. The Brazilians were able to see the slides and speakers, and to listen to a simultaneous translation using an interpreter. The response was very positive and the organizers in Brazil are anxious to participate again in 2005.
The AACPDM hopes to incorporate a question-and-answer session with the remote location in the future. We are also exploring the possibility of using teleconferencing to provide the valuable information from our annual meeting to professionals in other countries who otherwise might not be able to participate.