Panel to explore Lyme disease impact on physical, mental health Nationally recognized authorities on Lyme disease issues to speak at May 3 seminar

DANBURY, CONN. — Three nationally recognized advocates for improved understanding and treatment of Lyme disease through expanded research and public education will discuss the impact of the tick-borne illness on physical and mental health in a seminar on Tuesday, May 3, at Western Connecticut State University.

The seminar on “The Impact of Lyme Disease: Body and Mind” will be presented at 7 p.m. in the Westside Campus Center Ballroom as part of a Lyme Disease Awareness Month program that also will feature a health fair providing information on various aspects of the disease and its treatment. The fair, sponsored by the Institute for Holistic Health Studies, will run from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Westside Campus Center on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The event will be free and open to the public.

Participants in the seminar panel will include Dr. Robert Bransfield, a psychiatrist and president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS); Patricia Smith, a longtime Lyme disease education advocate and president of the national Lyme Disease Association (LDA); and Denise Lang-Grant, author of “Coping with Lyme Disease: A Practical Guide to Dealing with Diagnosis and Treatment.”

Bransfield, who earned his medical degree at George Washington University School of Medicine, maintains a private psychiatry practice and serves as associate director of psychiatry and chairman of psychiatric quality assurance at the Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, N.J. In his role as president of ILADS, Bransfield leads a nonprofit medical society that seeks to promote understanding of Lyme disease and associated illnesses through research and education, providing an international network for health care professionals to share information and research on new developments in diagnosis and treatment strategies.

A distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and vice president of the New Jersey Psychiatric Association, he has published numerous articles in professional journals on the immediate and long-term effects of Lyme disease, the relationship between infections and mental illness, pharmacology uses in psychiatric treatment, and health care policy. Writing in the Lyme Alliance Newsletter, Bransfield emphasized the importance of addressing not only the most acute and apparent short-term effects of Lyme disease on the patient, but also the risk of long-term damage to mental and physical health. “Brains are much more complex than joints,” he observed, “and it is more challenging to understand the chronic and more subtle impact of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases on the brain.”

Smith’s role as president of the LDA provides a national platform to advocate for Lyme disease education, prevention and research programs as well as outreach efforts to provide support for patients who have contracted the disease. Under her leadership, the LDA has awarded numerous grants for Lyme disease research, published informational materials to raise Lyme disease awareness, and lobbied for governmental support for research, education and prevention programs at the state and federal levels. In 2007 the LDA and its affiliate, Time for Lyme Inc., partnered with Columbia University to found the Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia, the first academic research center in the country to focus multidisciplinary research on the study of chronic Lyme disease.

A graduate of Monmouth University, Smith previously chaired the New Jersey Governor’s Lyme Disease Advisory Council and currently serves as vice president for political affairs for the ILADS. She has been interviewed on Lyme disease issues in national print and broadcast media, and has worked with author Amy Tan to create LymeAid 4 Kids, an LDA fund to support medical evaluations for children whose families lack insurance coverage for Lyme disease.

Lang-Grant is the author of nine nonfiction books on personal health, family relationships and crime, and is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in trauma and traumatic illnesses such as Lyme disease. Recipient of advanced degrees in clinical counseling and mental health from Seton Hall University, she currently serves as executive director of the Morris County Sexual Assault Center in Morristown, N.J. She previously served for more than a decade as a media company producer of television programming, and recently cofounded the United We Stand Foundation to supply CDs to members of the U.S. armed forces serving overseas.

Lang-Grant’s “Coping with Lyme Disease,” published in 1993, is now in its third edition. Drawing from her personal experience as the mother of a teen-aged Lyme disease victim, Lang described the physical, financial and emotional toll that the disease takes on patients and their families, and offered guidance on how to cope with these challenges. “Lang’s work thoroughly describes the illness’s diagnostic, therapeutic and preventative factors. It is well written, well documented and recommended for all consumer health collections,” the Library Journal wrote in its review of the book.

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

 
Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

 

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