Travels with NRI: The Fall conference review

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The Fall conference season is winding down with ACRM in Orlando. We had the opportunity to present: Reducing the need for seclusion and restraint in an impatient neurobehavioral unit as well as attend this several day long, established rehabilitation conference. The quality of the ACRM event is extremely high with a world recognized group of speakers. The issues of Brain Injury from treatment to research and policy development were all represented and mirrored in the multiple disability interest areas of the conference.

Just prior to ACRM, I spoke at the Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA) conference in Niagara on the theme of lifetime issues associated with brain injury as a chronic disease. I have been a participant in this conference for a long time and each year it grows in depth and breadth of the topics covered and in the number of attendees.

This Fall’s schedule of conference presentations actually began back in September with one of our Brain Injury Case Managers, Nancy Weber, who attended the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa’s regional conference in Waterloo, Iowa.  There was an excellent turnout and she had the privilege of getting to know some of the in-state facilities directors.  The conference was focused on the needs of families and caregivers.  The Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa plays an integral role in educating and advocating for all those affected by brain injury.

Next, Nancy and I were off to Atlanta, GA for the International Symposium for Life Care Planners.  This conference was well attended.  There were new as well as seasoned life care planners in attendance from all over the country sharing some great ideas.  I presented at this conference on brain injury as a dynamic and changing disease process instead of an event which was a topic with relevance to Life Care Planners who address the long-term costs associated with living with a brain injury.  Click here to view the powerpoint used in my presentation. 

Also, in October, Nancy and I attended the Southwest Disabilities Conference in Albuquerque, NM.  This conference addressed topics relevant to all types of disabilities including brain injury.  I, along with Nancy as co-presenter, talked to a standing room only crowd on the topic of aging with a brain injury.  We met some amazing people like Craig Phillips who was the keynote speaker during lunch on the second day and has since been featured as a guest writer on our blog, NeuroNotes.  His story is a testament to tenacity and positive thinking after overcoming almost insurmountable challenges caused by a brain injury in his childhood.

I went to the Missouri Brain Injury Association in St. Charles in October with Mike Bruns, one of our Brain Injury Case Managers. At this wonderful state conference, we had the opportunity to hear a strong group of speakers ranging from neurophysiological aspects of brain injury disability to issues faced by today’s returning veterans.  The audience made of professionals, consumers and family members all heard engaging speakers and benefitted from the work of the Brain Injury Association of Missouri in delivering this   conference.  I presented, “Double Whammy:  Managing Brain Injury and Severe Mental Illness when Rehabilitation is Over.”

Later in the Fall, Nancy went back to Iowa for the Inaugural Tri-State Brain Injury Conference in Dubuque.  For all those interested in the Certified Brain Injury Specialist training, this was a great opportunity to get an overview in a one-day crash course.  The keynote speaker on the second day was a woman who has done much more than survive from her brain injury.  She is an inspiration to her family and friends and now she speaks at conferences sharing her story.  Nancy found her inspiring as well.  Nancy also travelled to Philadelphia to the conference of the Northeast with the American Association of Nurse Life Care Planners.  This was a nationally attended conference set in the heart of downtown Philly.  She met several nurses from Hawaii who shared some of their experiences as life care planners and why being a nurse is so beneficial to the field of life care planning.

It’s now over 35 years of involvement in brain injury rehabilitation work and through that with the brain injury conferences. At each conference I get to renew acquaintances with colleagues and meet new people with exciting and important ideas. I look forward to what the Spring conference cycle brings with the International Brain Injury Association Conference in San Francisco, one of my favorite state conferences in Iowa  and possibly venturing up to Alaska to the state BIA conference there.  After all these years the work remains exciting and fulfilling. For me it’s an opportunity to give back to a world which has offered me so much.

I look forward to seeing NeuroNotes blog readers at conferences. And, please come up and introduce yourself, so we can become old friends.

About Rolf Gainer Ph.D.

Dr. Rolf Gainer is the founder of the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma as well as the Neurological Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario, in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Gainer is a psychologist with more than twenty-five years of experience in the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. Dr. Gainer has designed and operated innovative rehabilitation programs in the United States and Canada for individuals who have been regarded as difficult to serve. He is currently involved in conducting two outcome studies related to the long-term issues faced by individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. He has presented papers throughout the United States and Canada in many professional conferences and educational forums.

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