Newcastle-based, Peacocks Medical Group, has announced its annual FORTH conference will be returning in January.

It will take place at Newcastle-Gateshead, Hilton Hotel on 15 January, with delegates having the option of attending in-person or watching online.

Held in association with the British Association of Prosthetics and Orthotists (BAPO), the conference will be a multi-disciplinary approach to hypermobility and Ehlers-danlos syndrome.

Prior to Covid-19, the company had hosted an annual orthotic conference at the Centre For Life, in Newcastle, for the last 17 years.

As Peacocks has grown to a national company, the conference has been rebranded as FORTH, Forward Orthotic Thinking.

Established in 1903, Peacocks Medical Group is a multi-award-winning, family-run group, providing outstanding care in the delivery of both clinical services and medical equipment to the NHS and the private sector.

The company has a long tradition of developing and supporting the orthotic profession and its role in treatments.

Colin Peacock, the immediate past chairman of the company, was instrumental in the development of the profession as a science and recognised allied health profession. He was also the first orthotist to chair the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics UK. The second orthotist to be chair was Paul Charlton, a senior orthotist at Peacocks. Paul also sits on the executive committee of the British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists (BAPO) and plays a key role in organising the FORTH conferences.

The event will welcome clinical academic specialists including, Victoria Harbottle, senior paediatric physiotherapist at the Great North Children’s Hospital and NIHR/HEE pre-doctoral clinical academic fellow who will provide a paediatric overview.

Rachel Cooper, MCSP and Liz Clayton MCSP, specialist physiotherapists at the Great North Children’s Hospital RVI, will discuss current physiotherapy treatment. Dr Vadiveulu Saravanan, consultant rheumatologist, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, will address the subject of what happens in an adult world?

Helen McCormack, senior orthotist at Peacocks Medical Group will look at Orthotic options, treatment principles and options for approach and Amy Telford, specialist occupational therapist, Great North Children’s Hospital RVI will end the discussion on the topic of occupational therapy options, treatment and principles and options for approach.

Helen McCormack, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming a range of speakers, all experts in their respective fields to our first live event following the pandemic. It is in a hybrid format, so those who can’t attend in-person have the option to stream the conference on the day.

“The aim is to highlight the different approaches to hypermobility spectrum disorders (HSD) and Ehlers-danlos syndrome. HSD are a group of conditions related to joint hypermobility. HSD are intended to be diagnosed after other possible answers are excluded, such as any of the Ehlers-danlos syndromes (EDS), including hypermobile EDS (hEDS). HSD, just like hEDS, can have significant effects on our health.

“As an orthotist, I first had exposure to hypermobility whilst undergoing university placements and really recognised the stigma attached to it due to a lack of education for clinicians, patients and their families.

“There are many obvious difficulties in diagnosing patients with Hypermobile EDS. Symptoms are wide-spread and can include extreme tiredness, joint pain, digestive problems such as heartburn constipation, dizziness, and many more, which is why pinpointing a diagnosis and treatment can be difficult.

“After years of extensive research, the question still remains… How do you treat hypermobility and EDS? I have come to the conclusion that you can’t – but you can manage each case. I am looking forward to discussing the various treatment options available and to continue the conversation amongst my peers.”