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Working together to improve the lives of people with brain impairment

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.

Project Notes (referred to by Robyn in the Newsletter)

CYBERABILITY: Understanding, preventing and treating cybercrime after acquired brain injury

More people than ever are using the internet and social media for connecting with people, finding out information and entertainment.              
In community brain injury rehabilitation, online tools, apps and smartphone features can be extremely helpful. But like with other tools, its important to understand how to use them safely, and what to do if you need help. Unfortunately, there are individuals and organisations around the world that try to scam people out of money and private information. In Australia, $107 million was stolen through scams last year (Source: Scamwatch), and the number keeps growing. Scams can happen to anyone, even those who think they are switched on to this. Romance Scams are one of the most common types, and can cause not just financial loss, but significant heartbreak and distress. People with brain injury may be additionally vulnerable as they are often looking for social connection or a relationship. Once they have been scammed,
it can also be much harder to realise it was a scam and take steps to get out of it.

Dr Kate Gould is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and Monash University Research Fellow. Together with her client, Colin Brokenshire, Kate has been co-designing and delivering advocacy training about improving Cyberability after brain injury for the last four years. This work has been recognised by the ASSBI Clinical Innovation Award (2018). Funded by the Allen Martin Research Scholarship Award (2018) through the Summer Foundation, Kate is currently leading the Cyberability team in conducting a world first study into understanding and improving online safety after brain injury. Kate and Colin have joined with Anna Holliday from Li-Ve Tasmania and another consumer with lived experience, Alf Archer, to conduct an awareness building campaign on understanding, preventing and treating cyberscams after brain injury. Their series of workshops in Melbourne and Tasmania and webinar in July 2019 have been well received by the clinical community, with particular value placed on Colin and Alf’s stories of their own experiences with scams. Findings from their clinician survey and workshop evaluation will form the foundation of both clinical knowledge and practice in this new area, supporting people’s “cyberability” so that they can benefit from the safe use of technology in neurorehabilitation and their everyday life.

Pictures (L-R) Alf Archer, Dr Kate Gould, Anna Holliday, Colin Brokenshire

Words from your President
See news blog below

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


Information from your Student Ambassadors

Go to the Students Page

Report on the 2019 Conference from William Levack

Story boards from the ASSBI/NZRA Conference

Information on the 43rd ASSBI Conference


Information from the Editors of Brain Impairment
David Andrewes and Pamela Snow, both long-time founding members of ASSBI, tendered their resignation from the Editorial Board of Brain Impairment at the last EB meeting in NZ in May. The Editors, members of the Editorial Board, Executive Committee and members of ASSBI thank them both for their service. For more info go to BI page

Chief Executive Officer's Report

FREE THINGS! Now we've got your attention: we are offering a free month of ASSBI membership for September and October only. BONUS: if you're referred by a current member, both you AND the current member will get ANOTHER free month of membership! How good is that? CLICK HERE for membership: 

I’d like to thank Matthew for taking a pile of work off these shoulders, you are doing a great job Matt.

        We have a new ABSTRACT SUBMISSION PORTAL, we will now be using CVENT to submit abstracts. This means that we will be using the same system across abstract submission, registration and the APP. Look out for your email invitation to submit an abstract.

        Apart from ASSBI, The NR-SIG-WFNR and the CCD Bi-Annual Symposium are both opening their Call for Abstracts within the month  (go to World Events). Their conferences will be held in Austria and Melbourne in July 2020.

Cheers, Margaret Eagers, CEO

NEWS Article
We are featuring the winner of the Douglas/Tate Prize for 2018 in this issue

ARTICLE  2018 Volume 19, Special Issue 2 (Mild Traumatic Brain Injury) Brain Impairment
Theadom, A; Barker-Collo, S; Greenwood, A; Parmar, P; Jones, K; Starkey, N; McPherson, K and Feigin VL on behalf of the BIONIC Research Group

Do Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Severity Sub-Classification Systems Help to Identify People Who Go on to Experience Long-Term Symptoms?

What the study is about

Up to 95% of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are classified as being of mild severity. Whilst many individuals who have sustained a mild TBI recover naturally within a few days to weeks, up to half of those affected can experience persistent symptoms and difficulties participating in everyday activities.
Consequently, there is a need to unravel the wide heterogeneity in mild TBI and identify people who are more likely to need clinical treatment to facilitate their recovery. The challenges are that classification systems need to be easy to implement within a busy clinical environment, capture the full breadth of possible presentations and have high predictive validity. This study aimed to identify sub-classification systems for mild TBI and to determine their utility in predicting outcome.
What we did

We conducted a systematic review to identify mild-TBI sub-classification systems published until March 2016. Systems were included in the review if they graded mild-TBI into two or more categories, were an independent system (the most up to date version of a system was used) and did not require specialist physical assessment or MRI or CT scans (which would not be feasible to implement in a community setting.
We classified a sample of 290 adults who had experienced a mild-TBI according to each of the identified sub-classification systems based on their medical records at the time of injury. Assessment data on reported post-concussion symptoms experienced at 1-year post injury collected as part of a previous research study was then extracted for these participants. A series of ANOVAs and regression models were used to determine whether each sub-classification system could distinguish between outcomes.
What we found
Nineteen different subclassification systems were identified as part of the review. The proportions of mild-TBI participants classified into the different sub-classification grades varied considerably between different systems. The systems were based on a range of factors including period of loss of consciousness, worst Glasgow Coma Score and acute symptoms such as headache, amnesia, vomiting and confusion.  Only one classification system by Saal et al (1991) was able to significantly differentiate the experience of post-concussion symptoms 1-year post injury. However, the findings did not remain significant following correction for multiple comparisons and inclusion of socio-demographic and contextual factors in the regression model. Results from this study reveal that current sub-classification systems based on initial level of consciousness and acute symptoms fail to identify those most at risk of experiencing longer-term post-concussion symptoms. Other factors such as psychological and pre-injury variables may have more influence on longer-term outcomes from mild TBI and need to be explored.
The authors would like to thank the Health Research Council of New Zealand who funded the initial
recruitment and collection of data of the mild TBI sample.


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  • 16 Oct 2019 11:44 | Anonymous

    In the October issue  of the Monash-Epworth Rehabilitation Research Centre they discuss the conferences that MERRC academics, clinicians and students have attended and presented at. They celebrate their award winners, and outline recent publications. Click here to view HEADlines for October 2019

  • 2 Sep 2019 12:00 | Anonymous

    We have a new helper, Matthew has been recruited to help Margaret keep the website updated and is doing a great job. He has also got us very close to having the Online Store ready to go.

            Signing in whether you are a member or not will give you the opportunity to update your own information including your email address. It will also give you access to Brain Impairment if you are a member. If you want to change your email address login with your old email address or email Matthew to change it prior to you logging in. https://www.assbi.com.au

            We would like to collect stats such as your discipline and where you come from to get a better idea of our community.

            When your membership is due you will receive a couple of reminder emails and you can renew and pay online by Visa, MasterCard and PayPal if you have an account. You can also transfer your fees via the bank – if you do this email Margaret so she can put your payment through. NO CHEQUES PLEASE.

    If you have anything you wish to go onto the site or have any feedback please email me at admin@assbi.com.au.

    Matthew, Webmaster’s sidekick

  • 2 Sep 2019 11:30 | Anonymous

    I am writing my President’s report for this issue of ASSBI’s Newsletter just as Brain Injury Awareness Week (19-26 August 2019) is drawing to a close.  Acquired brain injury is often thought of as synonymous with traumatic brain injury arising from an external cause, but it includes a wider range of neurological conditions, such as stroke, brain tumour, hypoxia, degenerative disorders, cerebral infections.  Raising awareness about brain injury is important.  As we know, acquired brain injury is often described as the “invisible disability” or the “hidden epidemic”.  If signs and symptoms of acquired brain injury are not recognised by the general public, then interactions with the public can be misinterpreted as antisocial (cf. impaired self-regulation), drunken (cf. ataxic gait and slurred speech), rude and crude (cf. poor social skills, tactless communication). 

    ASSBI uses a number of strategies to raise awareness.  Our Social Media team, headed by Dr Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beadle and Travis Wearne, has the most specific brief.   As Lizzie explains, “we recognize social media platforms as opportunities to engage not just the ASSBI community but also the public in general. One of the social media platforms we use is Twitter. Twitter is a ‘micro-blogging’ system where individuals can send and receive short posts. Twitter has become increasingly popular with academics, students, policymakers, politicians, and the general public. In healthcare, Twitter is used to connect researchers, health care providers, and consumers.”  Indeed, Twitter is popular, and it does connect. 

    As part of Brain Injury Awareness Week, Lizzie and Travis seized the opportunity to use ASSBI’s established Twitter platform as a way to connect with others on this year's topic of Brain Tumour Awareness. They asked one of ASSBI’s advanced student members, psychologist Lee Cubis, to “takeover" the Twitter platform for the week and discuss his research in brain tumour and engage the community more broadly.  Lee reported that the strategy generated conversations about acquired brain injury, and specifically brain tumour.  Importantly it facilitated direct connections between people with brain injury and researchers.  Lee commented that it “led to some good, meaningful conversations that I think both sides appreciated”. Lizzie and Travis are compiling a list of people who wish to assist with future “ASSBI Twitter takeovers”, so do contact them if you are interested.

    Speaking of Twitter, readers should know about a mixed-methods study hot off the press (published in the June issue of ASSBI’s journal, Brain Impairment) by ASSBI member, Melissa Brunner, and her colleagues (Bronwyn Hemsley, Stuart Palmer, Leanne Togher and Stephen Dann), entitled: ”If I knew what I was doing on Twitter then I would use it more”: Twitter experiences and networks of people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) (see DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/BrImp.2019.12).  Of course, the issue of cyberbullying is a down-side of social media and has had currency in the recent press. People with brain injury may be particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying - see also Melissa’s associated paper (Int J Lang Comm Dis, 2019, 54(2), 221-223) which, inter alia, discusses risks of social media.   Our ASSBI colleague in Melbourne, Dr Kate Gould, has been working with clients on the issue of cyberbullying and she runs advocacy training on the topic (see this Newsletter for further details). 

    Social media stands in contrast to scientific journals which generally provide very limited and not readily accessible opportunities for consumers to join the conversation.   It provides powerful ways for researchers and clinicians to engage with and hear from consumers in an informal environment, as well as for consumers to have a voice and share experiences with each other.  And as this report shows, ASSBI and its “rising stars” are at the very forefront of important work in this area.

    My very best wishes to you all,

    Robyn Tate


  • 2 Sep 2019 11:19 | Anonymous

    Our website has been improved to provide more information about all our products (check it out!) and to make it more accessible to people searching for evidence based resources on-line.  We have now introduced PDF versions of most of our products for local buyers as well as overseas. These cost less than the printed versions making them even more affordable. With 10% off for ASSBI and INS members, there is simply no reason not to stock up!

    We are also excited to announce the publication of TBI ConneCT.  This program is based on the very successful TBI Express program but is suitable for use with individuals.  We have another manual in the works: PEPA – for assisting people with ABI increase their activity levels and meaningful goals. Watch this space as it will be available soon.

    In another initiative, we have partnered with eValorix, a Canadian on-line company, to sell our MEC manual. Hopefully, this will provide a greater reach for this ASSBI Resource and is a toe in the water for us in terms of trying out international distribution networks. 

    Last but not least we are now selling MP4s of previously recorded Workshops and Webinars  - have a look

  • 2 Sep 2019 11:08 | Anonymous

    2017 and 2018 Workshops and 2019 webinars are available for download as video files


    Jessica Trevena-Peters, Jennie Ponsford, Adam McKay, Dana Wong and Neera Kapoor have all presented full day training workshops and 90 min webinars late in 2017 through to July 2019.  If you missed this Continuing Education the first time around and would like to access it now please go to the website and order one or all of them. Alinka Fisher’s workshop will also be available shortly. CLICK HERE TO BUY

  • 1 Jun 2019 11:04 | Anonymous

    We are very pleased to announce the appointment of new Associate Editor of Brain Impairment. Dr Cynthia Honan from the University of Tasmania has joined the Editorial team and we look forward to working with her alongside our other Associate Editor, Petrea Cornwell.

    The next issue of Brain Impairment due for publication in September will be a special issue on Brain Impairment in Indigenous Populations. Dr India Bohanna, our guest editor, has compiled a series of cutting edge research papers from Australia and Canada addressing contemporary issues for Indigenous people with brain injury. This special issue will be the first of its kind and ASSBI members are encouraged to check the Table of Contents when they arrive in your in box.

    Grahame Simpon & Jenny Fleming

  • 1 Jun 2019 11:04 | Anonymous

    Nicci Grace welcomed Marlon into the world last month. Congratulations from all of us here at ASSBI

  • 1 Jun 2019 08:28 | Anonymous

    It is a great honour, and with such pleasure, that I take on the presidency of ASSBI.  In so doing, I thank my predecessor, Professor Jacinta Douglas, under whose sage stewardship the Society has flourished.   She has also been a wonderful role model while I wore my ‘training wheels’ during my two-year term as president-elect of ASSBI. 

    Let me introduce myself: I initially worked in clinical practice as a clinical neuropsychologist at Lidcombe Hospital in Sydney for 15 years, before moving to the University of Sydney where I held academic appointments;  first, in the Department of Psychology for 7 years and subsequently in the Faculty of Medicine at the John Walsh Centre for Rehabilitation Research for the past 20 years.   I have been a member of ASSBI since its inception in the 1970’s, and together with Jacinta Douglas, was founding co-editor of the Society’s journal, Brain Impairment, for 16 years.

    Thinking about the early days of ASSBI, I still vividly remember attending the very first two-day Brain Impairment Workshop organised by Dr Kevin Walsh in 1976 and held in Melbourne, where I was introduced to the fascinating world of neuropsychology.  There were several annual two-day meetings, which subsequently became the ongoing yearly conference.  The first workshop was a mega-dose from the Melbourne heavy-weights of neuroanatomy, neuropathology, neurology, and neuropsychology … and some very medically-oriented rehabilitation.  The second conference spread its wings, with an invited keynote speaker (Professor Arthur Benton, USA; followed the next year by Professor Jacques Barbizet, France), allied health representation, and inter-state speakers - and that conference format has served ASSBI well for the subsequent 40 years.  Over those years, an interesting observation is how the conferences have gone from a largely neuropsychological diagnostic perspective to a broad-based, multi-disciplinary society that embraces rehabilitation.  I, for one, like that development!

    From the sole event of an annual conference, ASSBI has blossomed into a vibrant, multi-faceted organisation. ASSBI members are continually coming up with innovative ideas that generally take off like a rocket, such as the burgeoning ASSBI Resources, initiated and fostered by Professor Skye McDonald.  This repository now boasts numerous treatment manuals and tests, which aid evidence-based clinical practice. Another example is the BRAINSPaN brain-child of Drs Dana Wong, Emmah Doig and Joanne Steele.   Their community of practice, initiated in 2017, has been enthusiastically received, with a membership of some 700.  Dana and Joanne gave an inspiring presentation at the recent ASSBI conference, encouraging us all to consider more regular postings to increase engagement. 

    And speaking of annual conferences, wasn’t the recent inaugural combined meeting of ASSBI (42nd conference) with the New Zealand Rehabilitation Association a resounding success!  Convened by Professor William Levack, and held in a remarkably windless Wellington, New Zealand, the conference was a wonderful mix of keynote speakers, workshops, how-to sessions, platform presentations data-blitzes, and posters, student events and awards, and of course, lots of opportunity for networking.  And not forgetting those fascinating story-boards!  The ASSBI Fellowship of Professor Tamara Ownsworth was announced at the conference.  Congratulations, Tamara!  

    As you will read in the Newsletter, there were a number of changes to the composition of the ASSBI Executive Committee at the AGM.  Now that I am president of ASSBI, Jacinta has moved to the position of past-president, and Tamara who previously held that position has moved to Committee member.   We are delighted to welcome Professor Olivier Piguet as president-elect of ASSBI, Ms Miriam Poole as Treasurer and Drs Lizzie Beadle, Travis Wearne and Barbara Zupan as Committee members.   Dr Michael Perdices and Professor David Copland stood down from the Executive Committee and we extend our sincere thanks to them for their work for ASSBI during their tenure.

    ASSBI wants to encourage and harness the multitude of talent held by members of the Society.  In that context, if you have ideas on contributions or innovations, I’d love to know about them.  My door is always open.

    My best wishes to you all, Robyn Tate, President  

  • 4 Mar 2019 11:28 | Anonymous

    Welcome to our first newsletter for 2019 and my last as President of this wonderful society. To get our brains buzzing I thought it would be fun to start with a quirky quiz. But before we embark on that quirky quiz, here’s a wee dose of useless knowledge on the origin of the word ‘quiz’.

    • Fanny Burney (the English satirical novelist) appears to be the first to have used the word ‘quiz’. She used it to describe ‘an odd or eccentric person’ in her diary entry for 24 June 1782. Unfortunately, I don’t know who she was talking about, do you?
    • In 1790, children playing with a yo-yo-like toy were playing with a ‘quiz’.
    • Use of ‘quiz’ meaning to question or interrogate emerged in the 1850s and gave rise to today’s use of the term to describe entertainment based on a test of a person’s knowledge.

    So with this questionably interesting background knowledge, we are now here at the 2019 ASSBI Quiz, the ultimate test of the ASSBI member’s contemporary knowledge.

    Question 1: Which country has the highest animal to human ratio in the world?

    Question 2: What is the southernmost capital city in the world?

    Question 3: What country was the first to give women the right to vote?

    Question 4: What city was the world’s first to build a fully fenced urban ecosanctuary?

    Question 5: What country is the first in the world to see a new day?

    Question 6: What city will hold the best conference in the world in May 2019?

    Question 7: Have you registered to be at the best conference in the world in May 2019, in the southernmost capital city in the world and the first to build an ecosanctuary, in the first country to give women the vote and the first to welcome a new day?

    Having masterfully navigated your way through my quizzical method to remind you to register for our inaugural ASSBI and NZRA Trans-Tasman Conference in Wellington, New Zealand, I hope your answer to question 7 is Yes I wouldn’t miss it for the world! or No but I will be registering before the earlybird deadline on 31 March because I wouldn’t miss it for the world! It will be so lovely to see you there!

    As we accelerate through the year and the decade, I am struck by the many challenges faced by the people I work with who are living with the consequences of severe brain impairment, many of whom are negotiating the changing service sector defined by the National Disability Insurance Scheme. In this challenging context, our conference theme certainly strikes a powerful chord of relevance. The conference theme centres on the World Health Organization's Rehabilitation 2030 strategy: A Call for Action. This theme highlights many issues including raising awareness about rehabilitation, making rehabilitation accessible and affordable, meeting unmet needs, reducing health inequalities, and providing effective, responsive services. It reflects the importance of working collaboratively, proactively and creatively and making a difference across practice, service and political spheres. ASSBI continues to support us in facing these issues through many of our endeavours from professional development through research dissemination to resource production. So don’t forget to keep an eye on our website to stay up to date with ongoing developments in all of these areas through the year.

    In closing, I hope the year has started and continues to progress well for you all.

    Warmest wishes,
    Jacinta Douglas, President

  • 17 Dec 2018 12:15 | Anonymous

    The conference programme is now online and REGISTRATION is open. CLICK here for more information

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