Letter from the Chair

July 26, 2011


I am privileged to serve as Chair of the Spine Section. Other members of the Executive Committee include Vice Chair, Dr. Alberto Martinez-Arizala (who will take over for me as Chair in 2012); Past Chair, Dr. Robert Ruff; and Councilors, Dr. Paul Gutierrez (term expires in 2012), Dr. Florian Thomas (term expires in 2012), and Dr. Peter Gorman (term expires in 2013).

The Spine Section consists of AAN members who are interested in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with disorders of the spinal column, spinal cord, and/or spinal nerves. Potential diagnostic interests include clinical assessment, electrophysiologic testing, and neuroimaging. Treatment options include medications, physical therapies, surgery, and new techniques.

Similar to other Sections, the Spine Section would like to have three work groups or committees dedicated to 1) education of AAN members regarding spine disorders, 2) the scientific study of spine conditions, and 3) practice issues related to care of the patient with spine disease. Dr. Harvey Edmonds has volunteered to chair the Practice Work Group of the Section. We are looking for one or more volunteer to head a Scientific Work Group to promote the study of spine conditions and submission of spine-related abstracts to the AAN Annual Meeting. Whether or not you are a Spine Section member, if you are interested in serving on the Spine Section Scientific Work Group, please contact me or our Section liaison, Becky Peterson (bpeterson@aan.com). Currently, the Section has three members (Drs. Martinez-Arizala, Samuels, and Bartleson) who serve on the Spinal Cord/Nerve Root Disorders/Neurorehabilitation Topic Work Group (TWG) of the AAN and basically function as the Spine Section's Education Work Group.

We currently have about 165 Spine Section members, but we know that there are many more AAN members who are interested in and see patients with spine conditions. If you are not already a member, please consider joining the Spine Section, a free service of the AAN. To join, contact Member Services (memberservices@aan.com), Becky Peterson (bpeterson@aan.com), or me (bartleson.john@mayo.edu).

There were four or more courses at the Annual Meeting in 2011 that were dedicated to spine disorders, and there will be a similar number at the Annual Meeting in 2012. The relative paucity of courses dedicated to spine disorders does not reflect neurologists' clinical practice where, if you include electrophysiologic testing of patients with spine and limb pain, spine disorders typically make up our second "line of business" with headache being number one. Please consider attending a spine-related course at the Annual Meeting in New Orleans in 2012. I am confident that you will learn something that will improve your practice.

At the Spine Section's general meeting in Honolulu, we agreed to support the Sports Neurology Section's proposal for a course dedicated to an overview of non-concussion conditions. The proposed course includes cervical and lumbar spine injuries, and we sincerely hope that it will be approved for presentation in New Orleans.

Last year, we suggested that the Practice Committee consider studying the role of electrophysiologic studies in spine disease. We were informed that just such a guideline is being developed by the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) undertaking a similar topic, so the AAN decided not to conduct a similar study.

A Section strategic goal is to increase educational offerings that address spine conditions at the Annual Meeting and other AAN-sponsored courses including regional meetings. At least one new spine-related course was approved and presented in 2011 (Spine Emergencies), but it is clear that more are needed. The Spine Section encourages Section members and non-Section members alike to consider developing course proposals for the 2013 Annual Meeting. The link for submitting 2013 courses will open in mid-September 2011 and close in early May 2012. I would be pleased to assist in generating your course proposal. You do not have to direct the course yourself, but instead can recommend a course director and faculty. Course proposal submission information will be posted on AAN.com.

If you have any suggestions, comments, or questions, please contact me or our AAN staff liaison, Becky Peterson. I look forward to your feedback and input.

J.D. Bartleson, MD, FAAN
Phone: 507-538-1036

Staff Liaison: Becky Peterson
Email: bpeterson@aan.com