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2012 ABI Conference a Big Success! Presentations now available…

Judging by the positive responses received from numerous registrants, our sixth bi-annual ABI conference was a big success!

Conferences such as ours are a great opportunity for people to recharge and take a step back from their day-to-day work. Conferences enable people to learn about and from one another as professionals, and more importantly, they provide an opportunity for us to learn from those individuals and caregivers living with the effects of acquired brain injury.

In thinking back about the events over the two days of our conference, I am amazed at the variety of perspectives that were presented. In the opening keynote presentation by Dr. Bernstein, neurosurgeon, we heard not about research into new minimally-invasive surgical techniques but about the importance of listening to and learning from research on patients’ perspectives. From Dr. Kleim, the second-day opening keynote speaker and researcher on brain function, we learned about how lab research with rats is informing how the brain reorganizes itself after injury and the important application of such findings to clinical practice. We learned about research on the benefits of repetition and practice and that, contrary to current thinking, time post injury does not limit one’s performance. At the end of the conference we were reminded by Dr. Abe Snaiderman of the important work we all do as professional caregivers and the need to “never give up” as summarized in his heart-warming video.

Workshop and concurrent sessions, posters and rapid podium presentations taught us about the experiences and learnings of working with individuals with brain injury across various realms. These included mental health and pediatric sectors, in community based services, with people who are homeless, with adults and children post-concussion and/or mild Traumatic Brain Injury, and the benefits of alternate approaches such as yoga and use of compression vests and modified eyeglasses.

And yet, despite the diversity of presentations throughout the conference, not surprisingly similar key messages were shared across all. For me, these messages included the importance of trust, support and pushing the boundaries on what can be achieved following brain injury.

In particular, the keynote presentations by Paul Nadler, film director, actor, author and student and by Michael Blois, law student and former Master Corporal of the Royal Canadian Regiment are most memorable for me. While the mechanism of brain injury was different for each, Paul’s through a motor vehicle collision and Michael’s through military service in Afghanistan, their unbelievable determination and spirit are remarkably strong. In thinking about the presentations of both keynote speakers, I believe that each man’s determination, together with the support of their families was and is a key factor in their rehabilitation and ongoing recovery. I expect the messages from these two inspiring speakers will stay with me for a long time.

Given the proximity of our conference to Remembrance Day and in thinking about the military experiences shared with us by Michael Blois, this Remembrance Day, I reflected upon and was thankful for the many soldiers who gave their lives or who were injured through their military service. In addition, I thought about and paid a silent tribute to those individuals and family members who fight every day to deal with and recover from the devastating effects of brain injury.

Having worked in the field of brain injury for 13 years (yes I know, this is only a drop in the bucket compared to most), I am so very impressed with the close-knit, collaborative nature and dedication of the many professionals who work in this field. Thank you for sharing these past two days with us. I hope you found this conference educational and inspiring and that you are able to take some time to reflect on what the key messages were for you and how you will incorporate these into the important work that you do.

Charissa Levy, Executive Director

Presentations where available have been posted – click here

Special thanks to our Platinum sponsors:

… and to all our other 2012 sponsors.