Panel of speakers at the Living with MS Day

This international event was organized by MS Spain (EME), the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) and the Spanish Multiple Sclerosis Association (AEDEM-COCEMFE) in collaboration with the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (FEM).

The event aimed to provide people affected by MS with the most up to date information though presentations and interactions with international neurologists who are experts in the field of MS. The neurologists answered more than 140 questions from the public during the course of the event.

The ‘Living with MS Day’ marked the starting signal for the 31st ECTRIMS congress, held from 7 to 11 October, bringing together neurologists and MS researchers from around the world. Professor Xavier Montalban, President of ECTRIMS and chair of MSIF’s International Medical & Scientific Board, opened the event by explaining more about ECTRIMS.

Towards a more proactive patient

Dr. Gavin Giovannoni, Professor of Neurology at the Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma at the Blizard Institute, spoke about how people with MS are becoming experts in their own illness. According to Dr. Giovannoni, the relationship between doctor and patient “has passed the accomplice model, where the doctor decides the diagnosis and treatment, to a dynamic in which both negotiate the decisions concerning their involvement.” In this sense, he argued for greater involvement of the patient throughout the process, as he claimed “patient participation in treatment is the greatest drug of the century”.

The importance of lifestyle

Dr. Eva Havrdová, neurologist and professor at Charles University in Prague and member of MSIF’s International Medical & Scientific Board, explained how the lifestyle and general well-being of people with MS can impact on their illness. She shared the results of several studies showing that patients who promote their physical and mental health have a lower risk of acquiring disabilities as damage caused by inactivity is avoided. She concluded that “motivation is the key” to leading a life with the highest possible well-being.

Progressive multiple sclerosis: a priority

Neurologist and Dean of the Faculty of Brain Sciences UCL London, Professor Alan Thompson, focused his presentation on progressive MS and the need to make it a priority area for research as there are still no affective treatments available.

In this regard, the International Progressive MS Alliance (of which MSIF is a managing member) was formed in 2013 to speed up the development of treatment for progressive MS by removing scientific and technology barriers.

According to Professor Thompson, “We are conducting many clinical trials for potential treatments and to find the most appropriate formula to slow the progression of this type of MS.”

We cannot do magic

Continuing the theme of the importance of research in progressive MS, neurologist and Director of the Institute of Clinical Neuroimmunology at the Ludwig-Maximilians Univeristät München, Reinhard Hohlfeld, added a touch of humour to the event with a magic show that surprised the audience; but he concluded that, indeed, magic will not help to find answers, so we must continue to support research.

The “Oceans of Hope” adventure

A group of people with by MS took part in a pioneering journey, travelling around the world on a yacht called ‘Oceans of Hope’. Neurologist Mikkel Anthonisen, project leader, told spoke about this exciting adventure, and shared a video and some pictures of the journey.

Thank you very much to everyone who attended this event in Barcelona and to all those who watched the online streaming at You can watch the whole event again using the following links: Living with MS day: PART 1 and PART 2.