By:  Miguel Leal Rato (Neurology resident, Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Norte, Lisbon) and

David Alves Berhanu (Neuroradiology resident, Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Norte, Lisbon)

There are few things as impressive as a crisp white mountain top in February, looming over a gentle unwinding pale river. The excitement of meeting a new country, networking with international peers and learning from top experts drives the desire to attend such an event. And so, as I moved from the kitchen to the living room, coffee in one hand, the comfiest socks I own on my feet, I couldn´t be more excited to finally travel to Bern. Well, sort of. The 8th ESO-ESMINT-ESNR Stroke Winter School, 2021 edition, had to take place virtually, but none of its spirit got dwindled by it.

The objective was simple, yet ambitious – to present an excited audience of 96 participants a three day review on stroke medicine. Neurologists and neurointerventionalists spread over a few time zones met online to learn and discuss current evidence on the subject, from research to clinical practice challenges

One of the key points of this virtual endeavor was to bring together neurologists and neurointerventionalists and to teach each the language of the other.  The day started with an overview of key aspects such as the global burden of stroke, current evidence (and lack thereof) of stroke treatment, and major struggles in stroke clinical research. The remaining of the day was dedicated to particular issues on stroke imaging and, for the neuroradiology crew, tutorials on neurological examination intended to show the contribution of our neurology partners and reinforce the connection between members of the stroke team.

The singular opportunity to discuss and review topics in an informal setting was refreshing and even though named black boxes on zoom can’t really be considered revolutionary networking, the small-group approach adopted at the Winter Stroke School felt like a social gathering and promoted the exchange of ideas, questions and experiences between participants and lecturers.

All lectures were clear and driven, and discussion was enticing. It was apparent that there was an effort from both the Organizing Committee and Faculty to keep the reputation that precedes each Winter School edition, even though there had to be a significant adaptation to the virtual media. Personally, discussion of therapy complications through real cases increased our understanding of the problems that may arise and how to deal with them, which we believe will contribute to our clinical repertoire and ability to interact in the decision making process back home.

All in all, the first day kicked off brilliantly, and so we will keep our enthusiasm over the next couple of days, Zoom fog permit it. Until then, follow the updates on @SchoolStroke, stay safe and cheers!