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Children with Diabetes: Focus on Technology

Mother Nature did her very best to keep faculty, staff, and families from reaching Cincinnati. There was rain; there was ice; there was snow and wind; then there was ice again. Flights were delayed and canceled and rescheduled. Roads and runways were treacherous. When all was said and done, though, as registration opened at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, over 200 attendees, all of our sponsors and exhibitors, and every one of the CWD faculty and staff had made it to the Cincinnati Marriott North for CWD's Focus on Technology conference, December 7-8, 2013.

Many of the families and adults with type 1 were 'first-timers' to CWD conferences — and it was great to meet the new folks as well as re-connect with old friends during breakfast on Saturday morning. A big thank you to Julia and Ed Mattingly, Harold Sanco, Scott Kyllo, Jane Hunsche, and Kim Kaar for the very smooth registration process. Although it was quite early in the morning, everyone had name badges and a hot breakfast by the time the keynote began.

Endocrinology Fellow Jeremy Pettus opened the conference with a very poignant keynote: "Type 1 Technology: My Life with Type 1 Diabetes." Jeremy, diagnosed as an adult with type 1, was the perfect speaker to open a conference devoted to diabetes technology. He shared his personal experiences, including a very funny video about hypoglycemia and the importance of continuous glucose sensing technology.

Saturday was filled with excellent and varied presentations. Psychologist Korey Hood's "Hope in a Diabetes World" and the following session with Psychologist Jill Weissberg-Benchell, "Dealing with Diabetes Burnout," were engaging and emotional. Dr. Weissberg-Benchell noted after the sessions that "It is so important for people to be able to voice their pain and frustration with managing diabetes." Both presenters noted that the Cincinnati participants were a wonderfully interactive group and that there were a lot of very positive comments shared as well.

Gary Scheiner presented two sessions at this conference, "Advanced Pumping Concepts" and "Making Sense of Sensor Data." Gary is known for his straightforward and understandable way of explaining the most difficult of concepts, and these two sessions were good examples of that. Roughly half of the audience indicated that they had some familiarity with continuous glucose monitoring, while the others were there to begin learning about CGM. Within the scope of both of these sessions, Gary stressed that the critical information in day to day management of diabetes involves blood glucose trends vs individual numbers. Representatives from Tandem Diabetes, Dexcom, and Animas were on hand as well to answer questions about insulin pumps and CGM.

Following afternoon break, Dr. Henry Anhalt and Dr. Weissberg-Benchell led a presentation and discussion about "Puberty and Adolescence: Mind and Body." This session explored the physical and psychological changes that happen during adolescence, some of which can be very challenging when managing type 1 diabetes. It was a candid discussion interspersed with some humorous moments. Jeremy Pettus rounded out the afternoon's sessions with a discussion group for adults with type 1. Lots of spontaneous and interesting sharing in both sessions!

Many thanks to Natalie Bellini, Marissa Town, and Jill Weissberg-Benchell for leading an 'after hours' discussion group for parents of teens. The room was filled with both parents of teens and parents of soon-to-be-teens who wanted an inkling of what to expect in the teen years. Jill, Marissa, and Natalie have a real talent of making some of the most challenging topics much easier to talk about.

Sunday morning, bright and early, the group gathered for breakfast and Ed Damiano's closing keynote, "Making Diabetes Management Disappear: A Bionic Pancreas for One and All." Dr. Damiano, the dad of a son with type 1, briefly shared a timeline of his research over the past decade, including a review of the most accurate CGM and insulin pump technology on the market as the studies progressed. He spoke about development of the algorithms used with the bionic pancreas, developed by Firas El-Khatib, and the last year's worth of research which brought his team to the Beacon Hill and Summer Camp studies this past summer and fall. He shared his team's plans for the next 44 months, which — if all goes well — will result in a bionic pancreas being available by the time his son leaves for college. The goal, according to Dr. Damiano, is that "people with type 1 diabetes won't have to think about their diabetes management. It will just happen." Following a standing ovation from the audience, Dr. Damiano continued to answer questions for over an hour.

CWD kids always have their own special programming at our conferences ... and this weekend was no exception! The children grouped with others of the same age: Elementary for the 5-9 year olds, Tweens for the 10-12 year olds, and Teens for the 13-17 year olds.

Under the leadership and guidance of leaders Lauren Lanning, Michelle Rago, Sunshine Abel, Kara Hunsche, and Tim Hitchcock, the elementary kids had a fabulous day, including activities such as a Scavenger Hunt, Fitness Time with Harold, crafts and 'serious' discussion time! It was a fun group with lots of great energy! Hannah Mattingly and Mary Babin watched over the very youngest conference attendee, with lots of help from staff who wanted a chance to hold the newest CWD family member!

The tween program, led by Adam Town, Kelsey Martin, Justin Abel, Grace Grande-Cassell, was equally fun. The tweens had exercise time with Harold, Type 1 and Sibs chat time, and some fun and creative sessions around food and carb-counting.

The teen program, led by Natalie Bellini, Jim Vail, Marissa Town, and Sam Billetdeaux was a great mix of discussion and presentation! The teens explored new technology with Jeff Hitchcock and Jim Vail, and had very engaged conversation time — Boy Talk and Girl Talk. The teens also had a lot of fun with "Carb Counting in the Real World" — an eye-opener of a session!

Special thanks to the Siblings staff, including Carolyn Billetdeaux and Sierra Abel. This is a growing component of CWD conferences, and their continued work on this program for all age groups is so very important.

CWD dietitian Mike Schurig once again spent months pulling together some great, healthy menus (and portion sizes and carb counts) for all of our meals. He created a delicious gluten free buffet at each meal for those who needed them. It always amazes the hotel management and dietary staff that we spend so much time and effort on this particular facet of our conferences ... but it is probably the most important thing that makes families feel safe about spending the weekend at a CWD event. Kudos to Mike for another job well done. Additional thanks to Scott Kyllo for managing the IT/AV side of the conference ... it made the entire weekend flow ever so smoothly!

CWD would not be able to hold conferences at all if not for the continued and consistent generosity of our sponsors. Many thanks once again to our sponsors including JDRF, OneTouch®, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi Diabetes, Animas Corporation, and Dexcom, and additional thanks to the folks at Perrigo and GlucoLift for supplying all of the glucose products to head off low blood sugars. The generosity of these companies in supporting CWD events and families, as well as their passion for helping our kids and everyone with diabetes to lead a full and healthy life, is extraordinary.

In addition, many thanks to the exhibitors who braved the ice and snow on Saturday to share their products and information with the Focus on Technology attendees. These exhibitors included the University of Cincinnati/TrialNet, MyBlueLoop, Tandem Diabetes, AdvaMed, and GlucoLift.

Finally, a big hug to the many people who helped out with this conference. You know who you are. We couldn't do this without you, and you have our most sincere thanks.


The snow was beautiful, once you made it to the hotel
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Registration began bright and early at 7:30 am on Saturday
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Jeremy Pettus, MD, presented the opening keynote about the diabetes technology of today and ...
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Ed Damiano, PhD, shared his team's work on a bionic pancreas, the diabetes technology of tomorrow
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Faculty member Gary Scheiner learns about a new product during the break
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Chris Angel flew in from San Diego to share GlucoLift tablets with CWD families
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