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AAN 2021: A Review

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The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting was held from April 17–22, 2021 and once again it was a grand success. We had the unprecedented and unique experience of a virtual meeting platform, which was easy to navigate and quickly accessed. The audience’s participation with questions and comments was welcomed and frequently utilized using the virtual chat feature. Overall, the meeting was educational, engaging, and satisfied our synapses. 

In my opinion, plenary sessions were the highlight of the meeting, where leading researchers and experts in the field presented the latest advances in basic and transitional research in neurology and provided cutting-edge, indispensable information on clinical trials and clinical issues pertinent to our times. Without any reservation, the hot topic of the 2021 plenary sessions addressed our most challenging and global issue: the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus was on Neuro-COVID, with emphasis on the neurological manifestations of COVID-19. Presentation included its biology, information on the acute illness of COVID-19, and our current understanding of its subacute and chronic neurological sequelae. The sessions provided the latest knowledge on the vaccines and a deeper understanding of the immunological response. In addition to the scientific aspects of COVID-19, topics explored social issues of racial disparities in health care, and the urgent call to demolish the wide gap and to prioritize justice. Another topic of interest to our current times included scholarly debate on teleneurology, and whether it can replace in-person visits.

In addition to the plenary sessions, various scientific sessions and educational courses were available. The virtual poster gallery was filled with wide array of abstracts and topics.  Opportunities were available to further explore our curiosities on topics of interest and ask questions of the authors. A new event added to this year’s meeting included a health care disparities symposium. Experiential learning areas were talks and presentations to help the attendees advance in personal and professional aspects of life. My favorite was “Live Well,” which emphasized wellness, exercise, and physical activities.

Other events included daily networking sessions and opportunities to connect, interact, and socialize with neurologists and neuroscientists from around the globe. 

As always, the evening entertainment was fun, exciting and relaxing. Options included a talent show, neurology trivia, games, culinary experiences, and a comedy night. 

Overall, the 2021 annual meeting was an excellent means to receive CME credit and obtain up-to-date information on neurological topics so we can apply best practices to our profession in our care of our patients. This year, we could attend the meeting virtually from the comfort of our homes or any location around the world. I already look forward to attending the next AAN 2022 Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington and recommend others to join.

Susama Verma, MD is a board certified neurologist. She is an attending physician affiliated with a teaching hospital in upstate NY. In addition to patient care, she is involved in research and teaching. She has authored peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapter on the topics of neurology.

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