ASSBI Australasian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment
Working together to improve the lives of people with brain impairment
40th ASSBI Brain Impairment Conference 2017 MELBOURNE
ASSBI Awards & Grants
Kevin Walsh Encouragement Award – awarded to outstanding Masters Degree Student at Annual Conference (value: AU$750) Luria Award – awarded to outstanding PhD Candidate at Annual Conference (value: AU$750) Travel Scholarship Award – awarded to an outstanding student abstract at Annual Conference (value: AU$750)
Student Conference Travel Grants – awarded to the top 4 student abstracts submitted for the Annual Conference (value $800 plus free conference registration) - Click here to download an application form. Applications close on 21st February 2017
ASSBI Early Career Clinical Innovation Award 2017 – The ASSBI Early Career Clinical Innovation Award is designed to recognise innovation in the field of brain impairment consistent with our mission to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by progressive and non-progressive neurological conditions across the lifespan. Click here for more information and here for an application form for 2017. Applications close on 1st April 2017.
The Inaugural 2016 ASSBI Early Career Clinical Innovation Award was Presented to Dr Dana Wong by Jamie Shine from Shine Lawyers at the Macau Conference
Dr Dana Wong Monash Psychology Centre School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University The Monash Memory Skills Group: Integrating clinical training and research into clinical service delivery for people with acquired brain injury The Monash Memory Skills Group (MMSG) is a 6-week program for people experiencing memory problems following acquired brain injury (ABI). It has been running since June 2014 at the Monash Psychology Centre (MPC). The MPC is Monash University’s student training clinic for Doctor of Psychology (DPsych) students, providing low-cost psychology services to the community. The MMSG is co-facilitated by 2 DPsych students, under the supervision of Dr Dana Wong, who is present for all group sessions. The MMSG is based on the manualised “Making the Most of Your Memory” program (ASSBI resources, 2010), which incorporates education about memory, internal (e.g., mental association) and external (e.g., calendars, reminders) memory strategies, and lifestyle improvements in sleep and fatigue, mood, exercise, and nutrition. It has demonstrated efficacy in multiple ABI groups. Our previous study of Australian graduates of neuropsychology programs (Wong, McKay & Stolwyk, 2014) revealed that experience in delivering interventions on clinical placements during postgraduate training was a significant predictor of the frequency and confidence with which neuropsychologists delivered interventions; but that most respondents had few opportunities to deliver interventions on placements.  This was the driver for me to develop a placement opportunity that allowed psychology students to develop these intervention skills. Group-based memory rehabilitation was chosen as the placement focus because there were evidence-based manualised programs available, but surprisingly few programs running in Melbourne. Lack of access to cognitive rehabilitation is one of the greatest unmet long-term needs for stroke survivors in Australia. Provision of low-cost memory rehabilitation was predicted to have a significant positive impact on psychosocial and functional outcomes for people with ABI. In designing the placement I was unable to find any evidence for the best methods for training clinicians to deliver group-based interventions or cognitive rehabilitation. Given that training competent clinicians is such a vital aspect of translating evidence-based interventions into practice, this seemed an important gap to fill. The objectives of the MMSG are therefore threefold:
Prospective memory performance*** Global subjective ratings of memory ability* Number of external* and internal** memory strategies used in daily life
Participants’ qualitative comments about the MMSG have highlighted the usefulness and novelty of the content as well as the value of meeting others with similar issues. Student competencies have also demonstrated significant improvement. Student and supervisor ratings on learning objectives improved significantly (p<.01) from beginning to mid-placement, and again from mid to end placement. Competency ratings of video recordings are still being completed, however preliminary evidence similarly indicates improvement over the course of the placement. On the MCTQ, ratings of supervision quality have been consistently high. Student comments on their learning experiences have emphasised the unique and inspiring nature of the placement, and the value in Neuropsychology and Clinical Psychology students training together. The MMSG has also changed practice in other clinical settings. New memory groups are commencing at Austin Health and Monash Health, and I am training neuropsychologists in those services to deliver the group.  I have also mentored neuropsychologists at Epworth Rehabilitation and the Royal Children’s Hospital, supporting them in setting up their own memory groups. Additionally, since hearing the student outcomes of the MMSG placement, neuropsychology supervisors at La Trobe University’s student psychology clinic are now allowing their placement students to co-facilitate their memory groups for older adults; previously students only observed. Results of the MMSG innovation have been presented at the INS/ASSBI Conference in 2015, and the NR-SIG-WFNR Conference in 2016, as well as at several invited presentations to local clinical networks. In an extension to this initiative, I am now leading a world-first investigation into its efficacy when delivered individually via telehealth format, allowing wider access to the program nationally, and more widespread impact. While the MMSG is based on an existing manual, its innovative implementation as a student training clinic and research focus makes it the first clinical training opportunity of its type in Australia. Students complete the placement equipped with the skills to deliver evidence-based ABI rehabilitation interventions throughout their career. The development of clinician competency measures to evaluate clinical initiatives is new in the field of neuropsychology. The MMSG represents an innovative, effective approach to an essential aspect of clinical translation: training competent clinicians to deliver evidence-based interventions to improve the lives of individuals with ABI. Dr Dana Wong
Group participants undergo pre-and post-group assessments to evaluate outcomes, using traditional impairment- focused objective memory tests, as well as more functional measures of prospective and everyday memory, strategy use, and goal attainment. Student competency development is measured through self- and supervisor- progress ratings on five learning objectives, as well as a group facilitation competency checklist I have developed for objectively rating skills observed in video recordings. This is the first time these competency measures have been used in psychological practice, and have important potential for use in other research and training contexts. Students also rate supervision quality using the Maastricht Clinical Teaching Questionnaire (MCTQ), and provide qualitative feedback on their learning experiences.
Using paired-samples t-tests, comparisons of pre- and post-group memory performances of participants who had completed the group between July 2014 and March 2016 (N=24) revealed significant improvement (*p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001) in:
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