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May 11, 2009
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WFC Montreal Congress: Renewing Confidence in the Profession

"This was the most amazing chiropractic meeting I have ever attended, and it gave me much renewed confidence in the future of our profession," said Dr. Brent McNabb of Madison, Wisc., at the close of the World Federation of Chiropractic's 10th Biennial Congress in Montreal, Quebec, Canada April 30 - May 2, hosted by the Canadian Chiropractic Association.

More than 1,000 doctors of chiropractic and students from 38 countries were present for this celebration of chiropractic, which began with an inspirational address from Canada's 2008 Athlete of the Year, Chantal Petitclerc. Paraplegic and wheelchair-bound since a spinal cord injury at age 13, Petitclerc broke two world records and won five track gold medals at the Beijing Paralympics.

Petitclerc spoke of her career, how to adjust and achieve your goals whatever may happen in life, and the important role chiropractic plays in her life as an elite athlete. She showed the video of her narrow victory over two Chinese competitors in the 100-meter race, and drew tears, laughter and a standing ovation from an audience in awe of her character and achievements.

Increased integration of chiropractic services within mainstream health care around the world, as in Petitclerc's sports medicine team, was one theme of the Congress. In the opening session, examples were given by speakers from the U.S. (Dr. Scott Haldeman, and Dr. Andrew Dunn from the West Buffalo Veterans Administration Medical Center), Canada (Drs. Silvano Mior and Deborah Kopansky Giles on inclusion of DCs in primary care teams and hospitals), and Denmark (Dr. Charlotte Leboeuf Yde, University of Southern Denmark).

Drs. Jack Taunton and Robert Armitage, chief medical officer and coordinator, respectively, of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, spoke of the team of approximately 40 DCs that will be part of the core health care team for the upcoming games. And in a keynote address, Dr. David Eisenberg of Harvard described integration of chiropractic within the Harvard University hospital system and reported his new research there - not yet published - showing far superior results with chronic back pain patients when chiropractic and other complementary services are integrated with best medical care.

The lecture hall was standing room only as eight Canadian chiropractic researchers holding PhDs and research chairs at major universities across Canada gave 15-minute overviews of their work. One, Dr. David Cassidy, described the work of 10 chiropractic researchers and PhD students at his center at the University of Toronto. 

Speaking the next day, Dr. Eisenberg, who is accustomed to the standards of Harvard, explained how "extremely impressed" he was with the intellectual standards and work of the research being presented at the Congress. Canada now has the greatest depth of university-based researchers and research of any country, and this is the result of an ongoing long-term plan by the Canadian Chiropractic Association to establish respect, cultural authority and a secure future for the profession.

The Congress' original research competition attracted 155 submissions and was sponsored by NCMIC. First prize ($10,000, the Scott Haldeman Award) went to Drs. Shawn He and Veronica Dishman of Palmer Florida for a basic science paper titled "Motor Neuronal Degeneration Following Knee Joint Immobilization in the Guinea Pig: An Animal Model of Vertebral Subluxation Complex."

At the Saturday Gala Banquet and Dance on May 2, which featured Cirque Eloise acts and a premier band from the host province of Quebec, Drs. David Cassidy and Arlan Fuhr received honor awards for outstanding services to the chiropractic profession internationally. There was a standing ovation for the oldest chiropractor present - Dr. Del Hushley of Montreal, a 1948 Palmer graduate who was celebrating his 94th birthday.

Events associated with the Congress included meetings of the Association of Chiropractic Colleges, CCE International, the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic (FICS) and representatives of licensing boards worldwide. One special event was a dinner to roast and toast sports chiropractic leader Dr. Tom Hyde on the occasion of his retirement from international sports administration.

As in Portugal in 2007, at the last WFC Congress, Sister Brigitte Yengo DC, MD, of the Congo was present and the congress was used as a venue to raise funds to support her orphanage. A raffle sponsored by Activator Methods raised more than $5,300 for this worthy cause.

At the WFC Assembly of Members, held just prior to the main conference, national associations from Indonesia, Serbia and the United Arab Emirates were admitted to WFC membership. This means that the WFC now comprises and represents national associations in 92 countries.

Other highlights of the assembly included an address by Dr. Molly Robinson, a former student leader in the American Chiropractic Association and the World Congress of Chiropractic Students. Under a contract between the World Health Organization and the WFC, Dr. Robinson has this year become the first DC ever employed by WHO and is working as a technical officer at WHO headquarters in Geneva. 

The location of the WFC's next Congress, announced in the closing session accompanied by drummers and samba dancers, is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Dates are April 7-9, 2011.

"This Montreal Congress worked on every level," said Dr. Susan Gillis-Lawson of Toronto, commenting on the strong technique, philosophy and scientific presentations, the social program, the venue, the large attendance, and the atmosphere of quality, unity and success. "It is possible at times to be discouraged about current challenges facing the profession in Canada and elsewhere, but this congress, the best chiropractic meeting I have ever attended, has completely restored my enthusiasm and optimism for the chiropractic profession and its future."

Source: World Federation of Chiropractic.

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