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Announcing the new IBIA Disorders of Consciousness Special Interest Group


David B. Arciniegas, MD
May 29, 2015


During the Pre-Congress Workshop on Disorders of Consciousness (DOC) at IBIA's Tenth World Congress on Brain Injury in San Francisco, John Whyte, MD, PhD, Joseph Giacino, PhD, and Risa Nakase-Richardson, PhD (the leaders of that workshop) suggested that the large (70+ person) group of DOC scientists, clinicians, and educators assembled there might organize themselves into an IBIA-based international special interest group (SIG) focused on this subject. The three of them approached Nathan Zasler, MD and I with this idea, about which we were very enthusiastic. Over the following several months, a series of emails and phone calls about this possibility culminated in my meeting with Drs. Giacino, Richardson, and Whyte in Washington DC in June 2014 to discuss this proposal.

At that meeting, we collectively agreed to pursue this idea further and to evaluate the capacity of IBIA to effectively host this kind of a group. We also agreed to collaborate on identifying an individual within IBIA who would spearhead this endeavor - one with whom we all could collaborate effectively and whose position as a leader of the IBIA DOC SIG would not overlap with the leadership of the DOC groups within ACRM and the TBI Model Systems network.

Over the following months, Dr. Zasler and I worked with them toward these ends. This included amending the IBIA bylaws to accommodate the creation of SIGs within our association, the doing of which was unanimously approved by a vote of the IBIA Board of Governors earlier this month. We worked with our team of professionals in the IBIA home office to evaluate the IT infrastructure needed to support the operations of this SIG (and, if such develop, other IBIA SIGs) and the cost of supporting this endeavor. In short order, we discerned that enabling on-line members-only web access, listserve capabilities, document sharing, conference call/VOIP/videoconference is well within our organizational capabilities. We then identified Caroline Schnakers, PhD (an outstanding DOC investigator who trained within from the Coma Science Group in Liege, Belgium, was the 2010 winner of the IBIA Young Investigator Award, and now works at the University of California - Los Angeles) as an outstanding candidate to lead the nascent IBIA DOC SIG. She graciously agreed to take on this role. Dr. Zasler, initially identified as liaison between the IBIA Executive Committee and the IBIA DOC SIG, more recently agreed to serve as Dr. Schnaker’s Co-Chair for this new group. Drs. Zasler and Schnakers and I drafted mission and vision statements for the IBIA DOC SIG and outlined its near-term strategic goals (see below); these, too, were reviewed and unanimously approved by a vote of the IBIA Board of Governors earlier this month. 

We believe strongly that IBIA members, the persons and families with brain injury that we serve, and IBIA itself will benefit from supporting this kind of grassroots, member-driven endeavor. The creation of IBIA SIGs, and especially the IBIA DOC SIG, parallels closely the process by which IPBIS was formed and became a Section of IBIA: a group of like-minded brain injury professionals convenes at an IBIA World Congress and becomes self-organizing group seeking to organize their efforts in a manner that benefits the group’s members, IBIA, and the brain injury community that we serve. 

On behalf of IBIA, I want to officially welcome the IBIA DOC SIG into association. We look forward coordinating its efforts with Drs. Schnakers and Zasler and to supporting the SIG's work for many years to come. We encourage all interested IBIA members and collaborators to reach out to Dr. Schnakers about joining the new IBIA DOC SIG and to meeting with its members next year at IBIA’s Eleventh World Congress on Brain Injury in The Hague.

For more information on IBIA's DOC SIG Group, please click here