Recap of the International Brain Injury Association’s Ninth World Congress on Brain Injury

The International Brain Injury Association’s (IBIA’s) Ninth World Congress on Brain Injury was held March 21-25, in Edinburgh, Scotland.   IBIA enjoyed record attendance with over 1,300 delegates present at the meeting.   IBIA extends its sincere thanks to the meeting President, Tom McMillan, PhD, his local planning committee, as well as the International Scientific Planning Committee chaired by Nathan Zasler, MD.

Edinburgh International Conference Center
Edinburgh International Conference Center

There was an excellent variety of topics, various learning formats and attendees and speakers from well over 40 countries.  The Congress had multiple tracks including basic science, pediatric and adult brain injury and attracted both senior clinicians and researchers as well as more junior professionals including ones still in training.  Lectures, workshops, oral papers, poster sessions, candlelight sessions and exhibits all allowed for myriad ways to learn about new developments in the field.


The Pre-Congress Workshops covered a myriad number of diverse topics, including:  a discussion on pediatric TBI by Carol Hawley (UK) and Ron Savage, among others;   “Catastrophic outcomes in the Presence of Mild Traumatic Insults” led by Allan Carson (UK); a discussion on “Challenging Behaviors” led by Rodger Wood (UK);  a session on TBI and women led by Elisabeth Sherwin (USA); Sex and Intimacy after brain injury workshop chaired by Camelia Herbert (UK) and Siobhan Palmer (UK) as well as a workshop on Post traumatic headaches by Nathan Zasler (USA).

Steven Laureys, MD, PhD, presenting at the IBIA World Congress
Steven Laureys, MD, PhD, presenting at the IBIA World Congress

Some of the cutting edge topics covered at this seminal meeting included: updates on stem cell research and therapy (Keith Muir, United Kingdom), pathophysiology of disorders of consciousness (Steven Laureys, Belgium), social outcomes in children (Keith Yeates, USA) and psychological therapies in TBI (Jennie Ponsford, Australia).  Other invited lectures included a number of topics representing the broad spectrum of issues typically covered at IBIA World Congresses including   such topics as “Long Term Survival and Life Expectancy after Brain Injury”, “Paroxysmal Sympathetic  Hyperactivity after Brain Injury”, and as inclusive as “Reducing the Cost of Long Term Care”.   The diversity of speaker representation and participation from international groups around the world made for a distinguished collection of professionals and topics.  Peter Hutchinson  (UK) and Andrew Maas (Netherlands) headed a panel presentation on “Developments in the Acute Management and Treatment of Head Injury”.  Dr. Hutchinson described the advances in “monitoring and targeted ICP management“.  Franco Servadei (Italy) presented on the impact of decompression and skull reconstruction on recovery.  Dr. Maas summarized the complexity of prognosticating outcome during the acute post-injury stage of recovery and presented “models of prognosticating” recovery from TBI. 

In the invited symposium chaired by Erin Bigler (USA) and David Menon (UK), “What’s New in Advanced Neuroimaging for Brain Injury”, Elizabeth Wide (USA) presented  information on advanced MR techniques and Jonathan Coles (UK) explored the use of “positron emission tomography” and the role of energy failure and the effect on  tissue fate during the acute stage of TBI.  Virginia Newcombe (UK) also explored the use of diffusion tensor imaging and the tracking of “Delayed Disease Progression in TBI”.  Monitoring inflammatory factors and their importance in recovery was presented by David Sharp (UK) and Martha Shenton (USA).   Steven Laureys’ presentation presented a portion of his work on the role of neuroimaging in disorders of consciousness.  Dr. Bigler presented a talk on the relationships between cognitive social neuroscience and neuroimaging correlates in pediatric TBI outcomes. 

In a particularly forward looking Invited symposium “Therapy for Physical Disability and Robotics in Motor Retraining”, Adolf Bronstein (UK) explored the use of robotic training for “balance disorders”.  Leopold Saltuari (Austria) presented the interface between Baclofen therapy as a precursor to robotic training.  Shaheen Hamdy (UK) looked at the advancement of retraining for swallowing disorders.  As an overview with somewhat cautionary caveats,  Jane Burridge (UK) presented “Rehabilitation robotics: are we moving in the right direction”.   A very timely and well received invited symposia on “Neuroethical Lessons for Brain Injury Providers Managing Professional Relationships” was moderated by John Banja (USA) with Cathy Johnson (UK), Barbara O’Connell (Ireland), Victoria Quinn (UK), Michael Oddy (UK), Irena Rebersak (Slovenia) and Chris MacDonell (USA).  These Invited symposia represent only a sampling of the wide array of the superb didactic sessions that were offered at the 9th World Congress of IBIA.

Accepted papers added another level of information exchange and learning providing a range of subject matter from basic science to community reentry.  A few examples of the diversity of the paper presentations can be noted  in the following list of a few select presentations:  “Adult-Drug Treatments”, explored the use of anti-seizure medications as necessary or unnecessary (Indermeet Bhular, USA),  Ross Zafonte (USA) presented the “Results of the citicoline brain injury treatment (COBRIT) trial” and Emilia Bagiella (USA) explored the issue of compliance during the COBRIT trials.  Novel treatments were also presented by Birgitta Johansson (Sweden) looking at “Dopamine Stabilizer OSU6162” impact on mental fatigue following TBI.  Also, “Agomelatine” was presented as a treatment for sleep cycle disturbances for those who suffered hemorrhagic brain injury (Brian O’Neill, UK).  Accepted Papers also explored the impact of concussion and mild brain injury.  Philip Dean (USA) presented the long term effects of “mild traumatic brain injury on cognitive performance” and David W.K. Man (Hong Kong) looked at the detrimental effect of mTBI on prospective memory performance.   Each presenter had opportunity to present and explore their area of interest and each session was well attended with enthusiastic attendees.

Attendees listen to one of the many presentations at the World Congress
Attendees listen to one of the many presentations at the World Congress

The “Candlelight“ sessions allowed more personal exchange and discussion with well known clinicians and researchers in the field.   An esteemed group of experts provided participants the opportunity to explore a wide variety of topics in a more casual setting.

The Ninth World Congress sold out all its exhibition space and attendees were able to gain additional knowledge about advances in technology, program services and TBI resources by visiting with our various exhibitors. 

IBIA genuinely thanks all our exhibitors and sponsors for their support which helps make our World Congress possible.

Over 600 posters were displayed during three dedicated poster sessions, a new record for the Congress.  Two posters were recognized for their excellence and shared the Top Poster prize (see Awards Section sidebar below). 

Traditional Scottish dancing demonstration
The traditional Scottish "ceilidh" was a highlight of the Gala Awards Banquet.  

Other prestigious IBIA awards were presented at the social highlight of the Congress, the Gala Awards Banquet held at the National Museum of Scotland.  This venue, considered by many to be Scotland’s finest example of Victorian architecture, provided a grand backdrop for a wonderful dinner and awards ceremony for IBIA delegates. The evening culminated in a traditional Scottish ceilidh dance, featuring expert “callers” who were on hand to take delegates through lively traditional dances!

Last but not least, IBIA organized an optional post-Congress excursion to Glasgow, the city famous as the location for many groundbreaking advances in brain injury research and treatment. Participants enjoyed a luncheon and lectures by Sir Graham Teasdale and other renowned brain injury experts at the historic Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow. 

The factors that guided the development in Glasgow of approaches to assessment of early severity and late outcome of brain injury were recounted, as well as how they have been applied, modified and how they continue to have relevance today. The speakers also discussed the range of international interest and collaboration in research on improving the outcome of traumatic brain injury and outlined opportunities for future advances. 

Attendees of the gala dinner whirling around on the dance floor
Attendees of the Gala Awards Banquet whirling around on the dance floor

Overall, the 2012 World Congress on Brain Injury that was held in Edinburgh, Scotland, was a tremendous success.  Building on this positive momentum, the IBIA leadership is already actively planning for our next Congress scheduled for March 19-23, 2014, in San Francisco, California under the leadership of the 2014 President, Dr. David Arciniegas and IBIA Chairperson, Dr. Nathan Zasler.



2012 World Congress Awards

Jennett Plum Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to the Field of Brain Injury
Harvey Levin, PhD

Young Investigator Award
Juan Carlos Arango-Lasprilla, PhD

Lifetime Achievement Award
Anne-Lise Christensen, PhD

1st and 2nd Place Poster Award (Tie)
The Efficacy of Functionally-Based Streaming in Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation
Nora Cullen, Kalyani Vimalesan, Tracy Aznar, Christina Taggart, and Carolyn Go

The Utility of CT Venography in Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury

Angelos G. Kolias, J. Nicholas Higgins, Imran Noorani, Daniel J. Scoffings, Marek Czosnyka, John D. Pickard,  and Peter J. Hutchinson

Henry S. Stonnington Award for Best Article in 2011
1st place - Diane Damiano
Effectiveness of physical therapy for improving gait and balance in individuals with traumatic brain injury: A systematic review

2nd place - Sasha Rogers
Defining meaningful outcomes after decompressive craniectomy for traumatic brain injury: Existing challenges and future targets

Car of the Year Award
Honda Civic