Written by: Corien Nikamp
I had solemnly promised to write a blog post after a week in Mexico because of the World Congress of the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics in Guadalajara. With 2 symposia, 2 orals and chair a session of chairing, it promised to be a busy congress. Yesterday, our 9-day stay in Guadalajara was, not at all at our request, extended by one day because of a broken "part" of the plane. That meant an extra night with a voucher in a hotel, an early flight still to Atlanta and a 9-hour stop at the airport. So plenty of time to write this blog, in between a few games of 30-seconds with colleagues from Groningen (Enschede won 😊).
Together with RRD'ers Erik Prinsen and Martin Tenniglo, our trip began last Friday with a flight from Amsterdam to Mexico City. Colleague Martin soon made contact with a bunch of fellow Chinese passengers and was spontaneously offered local Chinese delicacies. It most closely resembled strange-colored sausages stuffed with egg or corn that would keep until the end of time, so I politely declined and stuck with the KLM meal. After an otherwise prosperous flight, we landed in Mexico City Friday evening local time and after choosing the wrong line 3 times, we had the right stamps in our passports and could proceed to our capsule hotel. The corridor with sleeping compartments looked most like a spaceship and I was looking forward (by now NL time deep into the night) to a nice bed.
Exploring downtown Guadalajara
After a night of no sleep on a mattress that was too thin with the bus station next door, we were able to get back to the right terminal at 5:00 a.m. local time, refreshed and ready to catch our flight to Guadalajara. All on schedule, so we finally reached our hotel around noon. After lunch at a local picturesque restaurant, Erik unfortunately had to go do important ISPO-NL chairman things, so Martin and I took a cab downtown to avoid falling asleep. That turned out to be a very good choice. On the way we feasted our eyes on how traffic moves in this metropolis of millions (how about cargo jamming?).
We visited the widely known cathedral and spent hours in a neighborhood with all kinds of markets, stores and eateries, so we bought some souvenirs. We immediately got a good impression of local Mexican life and it became clear to me that we (or at least I) take children's birthdays a little too lightly in the Netherlands. Stores full of decorations, balloon, garlands, plates/cutlery/straws/cups in all colors of the rainbow, piñatas and candy with all the E numbers you can think of in quantities of at least several kilos.
After a jet-lagged night of sleep, Martin and I woke up fairly refreshed and then signed up for a "Tequilla tour". A bus tour of about an hour led by Hector "the protector" as our local guide, we visited an agave plantation and local bar, after which we visited one of the most famous Tequilla breweries in Tequilla. A fun day where, as a non-Tequilla drinker, I especially enjoyed the outward and return drive to get an impression of the country.
On Monday, right after the opening ceremony, the program included a symposium by Erik, Martin and myself, in which we told how we at Roessingh Diagnostic Center approach (scientifically) treatment of stiff knee gait after CVA. Well attended and nice reactions so a good start of the congress. On Tuesday I went straight back to work because I was allowed to chair a session, and then continued with a symposium by Erik and myself, together with Prof. Nerrolyn Ramstrand from Jönköping, Sweden. Again a well-attended session with nice discussions, in which we talked about our experiences doing gait image analyses: what is the effect of the number of measurements you use for your results, and how could you present the results?
Wednesday I had a quieter day with only sessions to attend myself. In the evening the convention party was scheduled. A beautiful location on a ranch outside the booth and Mexican music and dancing as entertainment, so we turned a blind eye to the fact that the food was cold and the drinks ran out after 1.5 hours. I then had to present on the last convention day in the morning as the 1st session after the party, so didn't have high expectations for attendance, but that turned out to be all right. On "kingsday" we turned out to have a Dutch party in our session. Two foreign speakers did not show up, leaving 4 presentations from Amsterdam and Enschede, "orange above" that is. In this session, after several previous ISPO congresses in which I talked about the results of my PhD study, I found it super fun to present about the implementation of the EVO consultation in the Roessingh. So the circle is complete!
In the afternoon, we had one last presentation, about the 1st final results of our iHand study, in which we look at the effects of a soft-rubber glove during use in the home situation. It was nice to also be able to highlight this kind of rehabilitation technology during ISPO. With this session, a full conference week is over. It took a lot of preparation time, but resulted in a fun week of meeting old acquaintances and new contacts. Apart from the congress, what will stay with me from Mexico? Traffic with a "sporty driving style" and lights on cars as if they were fairground rides, holes in the pavement, loud music, rubbish on the streets, 30+⁰C, good food and friendly people, who by 5-10 minutes mean 20-30 minutes.
The next ISPO congress will take place in Stockholm in 2025, and with an invitation to sit on the "World Congress Scientific Committee" for 2025 in my pocket, preparations for the next edition have already begun! Hopefully in a moment we will have some last games of 30-seconds and then get a seat on the flight to Amsterdam, then we will be back home after 10 intense days.
One last beautiful mural I came across in town!
Corien Nikamp, PhD
Tel: 088 087 5762