During the last 3 years, Monica Docherty has educated 480 medical students about her dystonia.  Below she explains what is involved. 
The University of Dundee Simulated Patient Programme began in 1997 in Ninewells Hospital. The Clinical Skills Centre offered a real clinical setting for medical students to learn and be trained to recognise various illnesses.
I applied to join their patient bank programme in 2001 – my aim being to promote awareness of Dystonia. Unfortunately my application was not accepted, and further attempts over the next eleven years remained unsuccessful.
However, during that time I gave talks to third year student nurses and physiotherapists. Then in September 2012, my Consultant Neurologist invited me to participate in teaching sessions of 3rd year medical students studying dystonia. The venue was not clinical skills centre but, to my surprise, the main lecture theatre.
So on September 26th, accompanied by my consultant, I gave a presentation to 40 students on the history of my condition, cervical neck dystonia. After a break, another 40 students arrived and the following day I repeated my talk to a further 70 students, distributing explanatory leaflets at the end of each session. I found a total of 150 students to be most attentive, applauded, and said how much they appreciated observing and listening to the “actual patient”, as opposed to writing about the condition. It gave them an early insight into symptoms, diagnosis and treatment; how the patient’s quality of life can be affected; and how the patient copes with the disability on a daily basis. The students also learned about the Dystonia Society which promotes awareness, research and welfare, and of the many support groups throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A letter arrived from my consultant which stated “Thank you for participating in the recent teaching sessions. I think the students found the demonstrations extremely educational and I trust you will be able to assist in the future”. One year later in September 2013, the class consisted of 180 students, and recently in 2014, I was joined by another patient who related her history of Blepharospasm. The specialist nurse then gave an excellent talk about the condition followed by the administration of Botulinum Toxin injections to the patient’s affected muscles. 150 students were present in the class.
I am deeply grateful for this privileged opportunity to have reached out to 480 medical students over the past three years. It has given me a profound sense of fulfilment and has proved to be a fruitful and rewarding experience. I would therefore encourage other members to consider participating in this very worthwhile area of raising awareness of dystonia.
It may well be, that this practice is already established in the local hospital you attend. However, if it does not exist, might the consultant be approached with a view to introducing it?
If you receive treatment at a teaching hospital and would like to educate medical students then it would be worth having a discussion with your consultant and showing them this article. If you do, please let us know how you got on or if you would like our support. However, it may take some persistence – after all it took Monica 11 years!

AWARDS is the Scottish Newsletter

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Issue 41 Summer 2015

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Issue 31 Summer 2010

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Issue 28 Summer 2009

Issue 27 Spring 2009

The Dystonia Society in Scotland



Dorothy Chisholm is the Scottish Regional Officer

She can be contacted by email or telephone 0845 803 1006


Local Dystonia Society Support Groups in Scotland

There are several local support groups in Scotland. Click on the links below to see contact information and meeting dates.

Aberdeen Dystonia Society Support Group

Airdrie Dystonia Society Support Group

Edinburgh Dystonia Society Support Group

Glasgow Dystonia Society Support Group

Inverness Dystonia Society Support Group

Perth/Dundee Dystonia Society Support Group

There is also a facebook group for all of Scotland:

Click here to join.

Dystonia Management Roadshow

The Dystonia Society are piloting a new Dystonia Management Roadshow in North West England and Scotland.

One of the findings of our treatment questionnaire was that ongoing treatments, such as toxin injections, are very helpful but on average only mitigate around 50% of symptoms and in some cases only provide very limited relief. Given this, a more holistic approach to coping with dystonia is needed. It has been shown that coping with long- term conditions such as dystonia can be greatly helped for many people by looking at how the condition can be actively managed. To help with this, we are piloting a self-management roadshow.

For more information on the pilot being run in Scotland please contact Dorothy Chisholm on 0845 803 1006 or email


Living with Dystonia Events in Scotland

Our Living with Dystonia Events take place all over the UK including Scotland. These events give people affected by dystonia a chance to hear specialist speakers, take part in complementary therapy workshops and meet others with the condition.

To learn more about Living with Dystonia Events click here.



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