Many firsts at WFH 16th International Musculoskeletal Congress

The World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) 16th International Musculoskeletal (MSK) Congress—held from May 10 to 12, 2019—was a resounding success. The WFH welcomed 406 professionals from 71 countries to Madrid, Spain, for the event—a record for an WFH MSK Congress. People came from across the world to learn and to share insights about musculoskeletal approaches to hemophilia.

The Congress was notable in many ways. The program featured sessions which spanned multiple professional disciplines. It also covered many topics for the first time, such as obesity and hemophilia and the athlete with hemophilia. And the Congress—which has historically focused on MSK experts—this time also attracted hematologists, nurses, psychologists, social workers, family medicine doctors, medical scientists—and patients. The fact that many more patients gave talks than in past Congresses is notable because it shows that the patient voice is becoming more and more present in the treatment process.

Greig Blamey, Chair, WFH Musculoskeletal Committee

“The WFH 16th International Musculoskeletal Congress in 2019 includes the greatest degree of patient involvement and engagement on record, with patients invited as speakers in nearly half of the platform presentation sessions.”

Sessions held on key topics

The Congress featured a number of sessions that covered important topics in the International Musculoskeletal community, including the following:

  • The 1st ever MSK session on obesity and hemophilia session which looked at the complications, treatments and prevention approaches related to obese patients with hemophilia. The sessions showed that public and general health issues have an impact on the hemophilia population, and need to be considered by both the treatment community and by patients in order to improve outcomes.
  • A session on the Madrid experience with joint aspiration in acute hemophilic hemarthrosis—a topic that continues to stir debate in terms of clinical impact versus the potential risks of negative side effects.
  • The first ever session entirely dedicated to athletes with hemophilia. This session showed that joint health outcomes and medical management have advanced to a level that supports people who take part in high-level athletic endeavours. The speakers went over what high achievers have accomplished physically, while cautioning that one type of physical activity does not fit all patients.
  • An interactive session on outcome measures. A frequent topic at MSK and World Congresses, the debate continues as to what metrics matter, and to whom. With disease-specific measures available and the potential to contribute to big data, how does the practising clinician decide what measurement tool to use, and when to track the results? The interactivity of this session allowed for audience members from all over the world to weigh in on what they choose to track, and why.
  • A panel discussion on ultrasound and hemophilia. This emerging tool in bleed assessment and joint health measurement is rapidly gaining momentum around the world. This session gave the opportunity to two global experts to compare and contrast their opinions and clinical expertise on a range of questions related to the utility of ultrasound testing.
  • A session on MSK and the future of hemophilia. With so many advancements in the medical management of hemophilia and novel therapies going online, this session looked at the potential impact of future technology on MSK bleeding disorder treatment.
  • A session on hemophilia management in the Middle East. This session focused on how interdisciplinary work within one region has applications in every part of the world. Strategies used to overcome geopolitical challenges for communication and collaboration were highlighted. Specific projects were also discussed in order to illustrate how practitioners in different countries with varied levels of factor access and different medical systems can work together for best outcomes.

Key takeaways from the MSK Congress were that the future is personalized, and that all healthcare professionals should encourage their patients to be critical thinkers and empower them to be part of their treatment discussions. Patients need to be informed about their pharmacokinetic (PK) levels, biomarkers, and data collection in order for them to have a better understanding of their condition. Similarly, MSK professionals need to look for consistency in the way that outcomes are tracked, and need to consider the contributions that can be made to big data in order to drive continuous technological change in MSK care and treatment.

MSK Pietrogrande Award presented

The WFH 16th International Musculoskeletal Congress saw Adolfo Llinás, MD, receive the MSK Pietrogrande Award. The award recognizes a healthcare professional who has contributed significantly to further the mission and goals of the Musculoskeletal Committee of the WFH. Llinás is the Orthopedic Surgeon and Chief Medical Officer at Fundación Santa Fe in Bogotá, Colombia, an active volunteer within the WFH, and a past Chair of the WFH Musculoskeletal Committee.

The WFH would like to thank the organizers, our sponsors, the speakers, and the participants of the WFH 16th International Musculoskeletal Congress for helping to make the event the most successful one yet.

To find out more about WFH International Musculoskeletal Congresses, please click here.