A Trip to Remember

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Dr. Rolf Gainer, Liz Lamers and I just recently attended the Iowa Brain Injury Association conference. We drove up on Wednesday, and returned on Friday – while it was a fast trip, it was truly a quality trip. The turnout was unbelievable, in attendance were: survivors, providers, case workers, and many others. Everyone was so warm and friendly, upon our arrival we attended a meeting facilitated by Ben Woodworth, Brain Injury Program Manager for the Iowa Department of Public Health, the topic of the discussion was “to identify components of the service delivery system and current resources available for people experiencing brain injury who exhibit challenging behaviors. ” The goal of the meeting was to identify resources for Iowans with brain injuries to facilitate their return home.

The next morning started about 7:00, there were many presentations to choose from – and deciding which one to attend was a difficult choice. Al Condeluci, Ph. D. started it all off with his presentation of “Cultural Shifting: Building Social Capital”, after which there were four breakout sessions: Joseph Richard II, MA, presented on educational program models for post concussion syndrome in student athletes; Al Condeluci, Ph.D. explored interdependence: the route to community; Tom Hensold, MS CADC shared on substance abuse treatment programming and TBI; while Vicki L. Castle presented on SaeboFlex Arm Training Program. During lunch we had to opportunity to socialize and meet with other professionals there, as well as a brain injury survivor who willing shared her story of recovery, as well as her struggles and frustrations.

Immediately following lunch Tim Feeney, Ph.D. facilitated a session on self-regulatory interventions, which was followed by Alarik Arenander’s, Ph.D. “Mind Over Matter: Regaining Control of Your Life and Rebuilding the Brain’s CEO – the Prefrontal Cortex- Through Practical Mental Interventions”. After which was another set of breakout sessions, once again I was faced with a tough choice, there was Michael Mason’s “The Firth Thing I tell Them: Personal Encounters with Brain Injury Survivors”, as well as Sue Bartlett’s “Using Functional Outcomes for Program Evaluation” after careful deliberation I opted to attended Ben Woodworth’s “How Did You Do That? Maximizing Funding”, which was very informative, providing information on how funding is actually accomplished, a truly in-depth look.

At 5:00 p.m. was the exhibitor Reception and Silent Auction, as well as hors’ d’oeuvre for everyone in attendance, the conversation was lively, and everyone appeared to have a good time. Some walked away with gifts (Jean Kelly, won our Oklahoma BBQ kit basket), and some did not. Like Geoffrey Lauer, Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Iowa, said “You gotta play to win”… it was a treat for all involved.

After the silent auction was completed, we went to dinner with about 20 people at Azalea’s. In attendance were On-With-Life’s Julie Fidler-Dixon, Judy Hilt and Kath Herring, Mike Mason (former Brookhaven Brain Injury Case Manager), and many, many more.

Friday, was a busy day for all three of us Dr. Gainer and Liz had presentations, and I had an evaluation to conduct.

Tim Feeney, Ph.D. started off the day with his presentation on “Helping People Without Making Them Helpless: Fun, Functional, & Other ‘F’ Words”, which was followed by Tom Brown’s “Neuro-Resource Facilitation and Dr Gainer’s presentation on “The Graying of Brain Injury: Aging & Lifespan Issues”. After which there were more breakout sessions, one of which was conducted by our own Liz Lamers. Her presentation “It’s a Long Way Home: The Rocky Road to Community Placement” was a smash – in fact there were still people vying for her attention 30 minutes after the conclusion of her presentation. While Dr. Gainer and I were waiting for Liz to finish up we talked for a while with Dann Larmore, MS/FAAMR, one of the event planners and a key member of the Iowa Brain Injury Association.- Then it was time for us to hit the road, we said our good-byes to the many people we had met, and made our promises to keep in touch – already looking forward to next year’s conference. We used the time on our trip home to talk about the conference, the positive energy of the Brain Injury Association of Iowa and their amazing ability to grow this conference into one of the premier state brain injury association events.

About Penny R Miller, MS, LPC, CBIS

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