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What's Going On at ASSBI and around the world

This is where you'll find out what's going on at ASSBI, all the news on Brain Impairment and opportunities in other countries across the world.

For further information on the ASSBI Newsletter and how to sign up for your FREE copy click the link below.

For further information on the official ASSBI Journal, BRAIN IMPAIRMENT, please click on the link below.

Words from your President

I am writing this column fresh out of our 45th ASSBI Brain Impairment annual conference. Nominally held in Perth, the conference took place online due to uncertain COVID-19 related restrictions in Western Australia, limiting travel and gatherings of large crowds. But what a conference this was! The meeting was a resounding success, and I would like to congratulate the conference organising committee led by Janet Wagland and Michelle Kelly and supported by Margaret Eagers and MERS Events.

See news blog below or download the June Newsletterto read the full story from Prof Olivier Piguet

NEXT 60 min WEBINAR on 24th June 2022
Dr Kate Gould will be presenting a webinar entitled What are we doing to help people with brain injury stay safe online?  with Colin Brokenshire and Jao Caminati


Executive Officer's Report


You must be a financial member of ASSBI, be nominated by an ASSBI member and be seconded by an ASSBI Committee Member.

Cheers, Margaret Eagers, EO

ASSBI 46th Conference in DARWIN in May 2023
The ASSBI conference will be brought to you face to face in the Northern Territory by co-convenors Drs Barbra Zupan and Lizzie Beadle

We say goodbye and thank you to Jessica Barnes
and hello to Dr Elise Elbourne and Dr Sharon Savage

Lots of researchers NEED your help this quarter, have a look and see if you can help if you need help, email us and we'll post it here too I'LL HELP


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  • 1 Jun 2022 11:06 | Anonymous

    I am writing this column fresh out of our 45th ASSBI Brain Impairment annual conference. Nominally held in Perth, the conference took place online due to uncertain COVID-19 related restrictions in Western Australia, limiting travel and gatherings of large crowds. But what a conference this was! The meeting was a resounding success, and I would like to congratulate the conference organising committee led by Janet Wagland and Michelle Kelly and supported by Margaret Eagers and MERS Events. The program that they put together was of the highest calibre with keynote addresses by international (Lynne Turner-Stokes, UK; Mathilde Chevignard, France) and national (Bruce Powell, Perth; Bronwyn Hemsley, Sydney; Beth Armstrong and Juli Coffin, Perth) speakers. As usual, a series of workshops were held on Day 1 covering topics such as Social media in professional practice, Goal setting in rehabilitation, Care following brain injury for Aboriginal Australians. Following a Welcome to Country by Kerri Colegate, Day 2 started in earnest with a debate on whether machines are the future in diagnosing and looking after people with brain impairment. Two teams, one in favour, the other opposed to the proposition debated fiercely but with great humour and outlined their position, and often finding common grounds. However, there could be only one winner and, in the end, the against team was declared winner by the audience by a fairly convincing margin! Many great papers were presented over the two days covering a wide range of topics, including dementia, rehabilitation, vocation, behaviour and emotion, language to name a few, as well as ‘how to sessions’ on behaviour support and NDIS, use of technology, and many others. In addition to the breadth and quality of science presented, what struck me was that most of the research was, explicitly or not, framed around a person-centred approach. Indeed, the philosophy underlying the majority of the projects presented was to make a difference in the life of people living with a brain injury. The conference concluded with its prize ceremony recognising the work by students. The Kevin Walsh Award went to Jeanette Collins for best presentations by a Master’s student, the Luria Award to Jasvinder Sekhon for best presentation by a PhD student, and the travel award to Vanessa Sharp for outstanding student abstract. Two additional prizes were awarded. First Meaghan MCAllister and the Healing Right Way trial group were the winner of Mindlink Brightwater Award for best interdisciplinary research project in Western Australia. And finally, Suzanne Barker-Collo was awarded the Tate-Douglas prize, for her Brain Impairment article, which was voted best paper of 2021 by the Editorial Board of the journal.

    I would also convey my sincere gratitude to Michelle and Janet, who took on the task to organise the meeting, for battling two years of uncertain time and getting this meeting over the line. Indeed, many of you may not know that this meeting was scheduled to take place in 2020, with most of the planning work done in 2019. By the time COVID-19 hit and Australia went into lockdown in early 2020, the organising committee had a full program of international and national speakers lined up. However, rather than throwing the towel, Janet and Michelle took up the challenge and worked on the 2022 conference, hoping for a face-to-face meeting, Unfortunately, the face-to-face meeting was not meant to be but the conference was nevertheless a great success. 

    As current ASSBI President, I must confess that I was disappointed by not being able to go to Perth and attend the meeting in person: catch up with old friends and colleagues and meet new ones. Indeed, a conference is so much more than listen to presentations and workshops. It is about connecting and being part of a community: individuals who share interests, passions, and where novel ideas percolate, are discussed, with many evolving into research projects, collaborations for interventions, etc… Often these discussions occur on the sideline, between sessions or around a drink after the last session of the afternoon or during the conference dinner.

    Not surprisingly, this is made much more difficult when the conference is held virtually. Nevertheless, social gatherings were held in several locations, including Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, either before or at the end of the conference, where delegates met together for a social occasion and share stories about ASSBI, the conference or other topics. For me, this demonstrates the collegiality of ASSBI, making it much more than simply a group of people interested in brain impairment.

    Another advantage of the virtual meeting is the flexibility. With multiple parallel sessions, the choice is wide and therefore the decision to attend one or another session rather difficult. The virtual format, however, solves this problem, in that all presentations from the keynote addresses, invited speakers, paper sessions and data blitzes were recorded and are available to view at your leisure for the next 90 days. So you can listen to the talks that you missed or watch again the ones you enjoyed: what a treat!

    Until next time, stay well and stay safe

    Olivier Piguet, President, ASSBI

  • 31 May 2022 11:12 | Anonymous

    Douglas and Tate Prize

    The winner of the Douglas and Tate Prize for best paper published in Brain Impairment in 2021 was Suzanne Barker-Collo for the following paper:

    Barker-Collo, S., Theadom, A., Jones, K., Starkey, N., Fernando, K., Kahan, M., Prah, P., & Feigin, V. (2021). Three methods for examining trajectories in the neuropsychological performance across the first 4 years after mild traumatic brain injury. Brain Impairment, 22, 20-33.

    The Douglas and Tate Prize was created in recognition of the work of founding editors Jacinta Douglas and Robyn Tate. The winner is selected each year by a panel of Editorial Board members, and receives a cash prize donated by our publisher Cambridge University Press.

    More on the journal in the Newsletter

  • 31 May 2022 11:11 | Anonymous

    Moving into new housing designed for people with disability: preliminary evaluation of outcomes

    Jacinta Douglas, Dianne Winkler, Stacey Oliver, Stephanie Liddicoat and Kate D’Cruz

    Disability and Rehabilitation, https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2022.2060343

    What the study is about 

    Adequate housing is universally viewed as one of the most basic human needs. Our home and living arrangements have a strong influence on our quality of life. Yet a substantial number of people with acquired neurological disabilities and complex needs (e.g., brain injury, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis) are denied access to their own home and have limited choice in housing and living arrangements. In this study our aim was to investigate the change in individual outcomes for people with disability and complex needs who move into newly built, individualised apartments in the community.

    What we did

    We interviewed 15 adults with acquired neurological disability (aged 18–65 years)  and completed three primary self-report outcome measures at two time-points (time 1: pre-move and time 2: 6–24 months post-move). Pre-move living arrangements included group homes, residential aged care, private rentals, and living with parents. Post-move living arrangements were individualised apartments built for people with disability. Health, wellbeing, community integration, and support needs were compared across pre- and post-move timepoints.

    What we found

    Despite the small and heterogeneous sample in this preliminary study, statistically significant improvements consistent with large positive effects were demonstrated in the wellbeing, and community integration of tenants at post-move compared with pre-move. A positive trend commensurate with a large effect was also evident on health post-move. Scores on these three measures improved with increasing time post move. Daily support hours for the group of 15 participants showed an overall reduction. Pre-move the average support hours per participant was 19 h per day; at post-move the average support hours per participant was 16.6 h per day (an average decrease of 2.4 support hours per participant per day). These results demonstrate the positive personal outcomes that can be experienced by people with acquired disability when they have the opportunity to move into individualised housing that reflects their will and preferences. 

  • 1 Mar 2022 08:11 | Anonymous

    In their own words: Empowering people to tell their story after traumatic brain injury - REGISTER


    This webinar will be a fun and lively presentation from a group of people who will share their experiences of having a traumatic brain injury and their unique perspectives on their rehabilitation journeys. The speakers have all been supported to develop their stories as part of their speech pathology programmes and find this to be a very rewarding journey both for their own recovery but also through the valuable contribution they make to others.

    Speech pathologist, Dr Melanie Moses will also share her insights into the value of storytelling as a therapy tool. 

    Key Learnings:

    • 1.     Develop unique insights into lived experience of people with traumatic brain injury and ways to best to engage them in their rehabilitation journey.
    • 2.     Understand ways in which supporting clients to tell their story may assist them to develop a range of cognitive-communication and psychosocial skills. 
  • 1 Mar 2022 08:10 | Anonymous

    Date changed to 26th May at 1pm via Zoom

    ID: 853 5750 1546

    Password: 980189

  • 1 Mar 2022 07:58 | Anonymous

    As I put together these Words from the President, my aim is to write this column without focusing (too much) on the dreaded ‘C’ word. In doing so, I hope that you will indulge me as I share my (slightly meandering) thoughts with you.

    I have been thinking a fair bit about communication in the digital age in recent times and its impact on our social interactions. A phenomenal change that has happened in less than 25 years. Indeed, penetration of digital technology is such that internet/mobile technology is now present in > 90% of households in developed and developing countries. With it comes a fast connection with the world and access to information like never before, through newsfeeds, social media, websites, search engines, resulting in a continuous flow of information and news cycle. Long gone is waiting for the 7 o’clock evening news bulletin for an update of the whole day of local and international news MORE.........
  • 29 Nov 2021 11:35 | Anonymous

    It gives me considerable pleasure to start this entry with some good news. It looks like the wish expressed in the closing paragraph of my last ‘Word from the President’ was granted: With the help of a sustained and combined effort to promote the importance of COVID-19 vaccination and expanded infrastructure at multiple levels (federal, State, communities), the proportion of people fully vaccinated is reaching levels (80-90%) that are the envy of many countries around the world (although with considerable variability between urban and regional/remote areas). As a result, people living in Australia are slowly enjoying renewed freedom. Freedom to travel, freedom to engage in physical, social and sporting activities, and, most importantly, freedom to meet with loved ones, friends and families face to face. For many, it will also be the first opportunity to travel overseas and come back without having to quarantine in over 600 days.

    Once again, the importance of direct social and physical contacts is not to be underestimated. As reported by many around the world, social interactions have wide ranging benefits that include mental as well as physical health, improved cognition, improved immune system and lower stress levels. We are, and will remain, social animals in need of social interactions.

    Pleasingly, the importance and contributions of social interactions to our general wellbeing is also recognised by clinicians and researchers working in the field of brain impairment. Indeed, reviewing the articles published in the past 12 months in Brain Impairment, the journal of ASSBI, no fewer than 25% of accepted submissions covered a topic related to some of aspects of social functioning, such as caregiver support (Wallace et al., doi:10.1017/BrImp.2021.5) compassion and unmet needs (Hennessy & Sullivan), moral cognition (Lloyd et al., doi:10.1017/BrImp.2021.7), reflection on professional practice (Whiffin & Ellis-Hill, doi:10.1017/BrImp.2021.14), or working memory and emotions (Byom et al., doi:10.1017/BrImp.2021.20), in clinical populations as varied as traumatic brain injury, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. If you haven’t done so already, I invite you to read these papers which demonstrate the importance of this topic in clinical practice. More broadly, these articles highlight the breadth and quality of studies published in Brain Impairment, which has enjoyed a marked increase in its impact factor (from 0.96 in 2018 to 1.73 in 2020), an increase that is almost twice as large as similar journals and reflecting its quality and increasing standing in the field.

    Finally, as we are fast approaching the end of the year and the festive season, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all of you ASSBI members for your continuing support of the society and to the ASSBI committee at large for your ongoing contributions and for helping steer this ship during what has been an interesting time (understatement of the year).

    Wishing you all a prosperous and healthy 2022 and looking forward to seeing you all in person in May at the 45th annual ASSBI conference in Perth. 

    Olivier Piguet, President

  • 1 Jun 2021 11:47 | Anonymous

    It is with great pleasure that I write my first Words from the President for the ASSBI newsletter. Before telling you about myself and what makes me tick, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Robyn Tate for her outstanding presidency during the past two years, steering ASSBI through turbulent waters in the past 18 months deftly and with great poise. One recognises a leader not by what they say but by how they react to the uncertainty and the unexpected; And Robyn has been, undoubtedly, a great ASSBI president and I hope to be able to follow her steps. My aim is to continue increasing ASSBI’s visibility in the Australasian landscape as a strong voice for brain injury, regardless of aetiology, and as a platform to promote excellence in applied research and interventions in the field.

    At a time when many professional organisations are feeling the continuing impact of the pandemic, with many conferences and meetings cancelled, ASSBI has fared comparatively well. Yes, the 2020 Perth Annual meeting, which is one of the major sources of income for the society, had to be cancelled; however, our online training program and workshops have been very successful by all accounts and minimizing the financial impact of this cancellation on the society. Undoubtedly, this is due in great part to the tireless work of our Executive Officer, Margaret Eagers, together with the Continuing Education Committee, led by Barbra Zupan, which despite these difficulties managed to put together an outstanding program. This year, I am pleased to say that the conference will happen again. Indeed, ASSBI joins forces with the International Neuropsychological Society and the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists for what will be a momentous 2021 Annual meeting in Melbourne, with the opportunity to meet face-to-face with your fellow colleagues and friends, as well as remotely.

    So, who is our new President? I am currently appointed Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Sydney, and director of FRONTIER, the frontotemporal dementia clinical research group based at the Brain & Mind Centre where I lead a research group of ~25 staff/clinicians/postdocs/students investigating early manifestations and progression of younger-onset dementia syndromes. As my name suggests, I am not from around here originally. Native of the land of Jean Piaget and Carl Gustav Jung and, for those following more recent history, Roger Federer. I completed my undergraduate studies in psychology at the University of Geneva. At a time where formal clinical training in neuropsychology was almost non-existent in Europe, I was accepted in the Masters program in Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Melbourne and was lucky to train under the guidance of Michael Saling, Vicki Anderson, Steve Bowden and, on clinical placements, Anne Unkenstein. Two years of training has turned into a 30-year love story for this country and for neuropsychology, as well as cognitive and clinical neurosciences. In the past 15 years, my focus has been on frontotemporal dementia in its many forms (behavioural variant, language variants, motor presentations). Frontotemporal dementia is a complex disease caused by multiple brain pathologies leading to, sometimes, confusing clinical presentations. Generally emerging in people in their late 50s, it is not uncommonly confused with psychiatric conditions with a long delay to diagnosis and management (Indeed, who wants to think about dementia at that age?). Currently, the major challenges in the field are to improve early and accurate diagnosis and understand disease progression so we can inform patients and families better. My work is varied: In an attempt to reach these goals, I use convergent methodologies, which include behavioural, clinical, cognitive, neuroimaging, physiological, genetics and neuropathological investigations. Obviously, the ultimate aim will be to develop disease modifying treatments and a cure, although the road ahead is still long. In the meantime, we have also been focusing on developing interventions and management programs to address some of the disabling features of these diseases, as well as providing support to carers, families, and education to various scientific organisations and bodies.

    I am very excited to start my tenure as ASSBI President. All in all, the society remains very healthy, despite the turbulent recent period. In addition, with difficult times come opportunities: opportunities to reflect on the identity of the society and chances to explore novel options to develop our activities and communicate with our membership and sister societies. I truly believe that the future is bright for ASSBI and I am looking forward to being part of this journey.

    Looking forward to seeing you all in Melbourne next month 

    Olivier Piguet, President

  • 1 Jun 2021 11:44 | Anonymous

    Our journal Brain Impairment has many new ‘First View’ articles available and our social media editors have been sharing this new high-quality content via our Twitter account @BrainImpairment. They are also busily preparing an #HeadsTogether2021 conference workshop on research dissemination strategy where we will provide an overview of what is possible, how to build engagement, and outline some resources to get you started thinking about how you go about it! Also, don’t forget to check out the new look ASSBI journal webpages here https://assbi.com.au/Journal-BIM and follow the journal @BrainImpairment on Twitter to stay up-to-date.

  • 1 Jun 2021 11:42 | Anonymous

    Many congratulations to Professor  Skye McDonald, who became a proud grandma to a beautiful granddaughter at the end of 2020

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