Seventh World Congress Recap

The Seventh World Congress on Brain injury of the International Brain Injury Association was held in conjunction with the Portuguese Society of PRM in Lisbon, Portugal, from April 9-12, 2008. A pre-congress, one day symposium on MTBI, co-sponsored with the World Federation of Neurological Rehabilitation (WFNR), was held on 4/8/08. The event was an overwhelming success with delegates from every corner of the world in attendance.

The conference started off strong with the MTBI pre-congress symposium and an array of world class speakers who shared state-of-the-art knowledge on mild TBI including biomechanics and thresholds of human brain injury, pathophysiology and pathoanatomy, clinical assessment and treatment, long term outcome, vocational re-entry, as well as, methodological limitations of MTBI research as related to practice guideline development.

seventhworldcongressrecappic1.jpgPresented by Dr. Nathan Zasler (center), the “Jennett Plum Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to the Field of Brain Injury” recognized the people for who it was named, Dr. Bryan Jennett and Dr. Fred Plum. Peter Jennett (left), Dr. Jennett's son, accepted the award on behalf of his father. Dr. Joseph Fins (right) accepted the award on behalf of Dr. Plum who due to health reasons could not attend. To read the comments delivered at the awards ceremony, click here.

The main conference had about 700 participants from over twenty countries and from six continents. We had excellent attendee representation with participants from Malaysia, China, Ireland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Russian Federation, Oman, Turkey, United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal, United States, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil, among other represented country. There were 46 invited speakers giving close to 60 invited talks. The invited speakers hailed from fifteen different countries. International colleagues and researchers presented 203 oral presentations and 178 posters. The level of scientific quality of the presentations and interactions was deemed to be excellent by those in attendance with participation by numerous members of international and Portuguese endorsing organizations.

We were also honored to have Dr. Charles Mock, M.D., Ph.D., from the World Health Organization (WHO) give the opening plenary lecture. IBIA is excited about opportunities to work more closely with WHO on development and dissemination of materials relating to traumatic brain injury, as well as, solicitation of involvement of professionals working with persons with TBI in low and middle income countries. One of our goals is to have the World Health Organization as a formal sponsor/indorsing organization in 2010, when the IBIA World Congress meeting will be held for the first time in the United States.

Some of the outstanding pleanary lectures that were given at the meeting included: Dr. Nancy Carney's talk on his summary of the 3rd Edition of the Guidelines for management of traumatic brain injury, Dr. Linda Carrol's talk on clinical trial designs and MTBI research, Dr. Andrew Maas' talk on improving the design of clinical trials in moderate to severe TBI and Dr. Ross Zafonte's talk on "Rehabilitation Interventions: Lessons from the Past for the Future, as well as Dr. Povlishock's talk on "Progress and Neuroprotection: From Bench to Bedside," and, lastly, Dr. Joseph Fins' talk on "From PVS to MCS: Fred Plum's legacy to neuroethics."

The meeting was also notable for the inclusion of "Candlelight Sessions with the Experts," in which 14 of the invited speakers participated and conference attendees had an opportunity to meet with these individuals on a more intimate, one-to-one basis along with food and drink. On the last day of the congress, a variety of workshops were conducted including, but not limited to: Dr. Andy Tyerman's workshop on “Vocational Rehabilitation”, Dr. Nathan Zasler's workshop on “Residential Design for Persons with ABI” and Dr. Linda McKay’s workshop on “Advantages of Brain Injury Certification from an International Perspective”.

The social program was carefully prepared and executed. We had a lovely welcome reception at the Pestana Palace, the main conference hotel on 4/9, followed by a wonderful Gala Dinner on 4/12 with various musical entertainers and most importantly, the conference awards ceremony. IBIA was very pleased to be able to give out three different awards at the Seventh World Congres, specifically, the Henry Stonnington awards for best review articles. There was a 1st place award which received not only a special certificate acknowledging the award but also, a $1,000 cash award, as well as, a 2nd second place award with a certificate of recognition and a $500 cash award. The IBIA 2008 Safe Car Award went to the Cadillac CTS based on safety ratings and the car being chosen as Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. Lastly, IBIA was extremely proud to present a new award for scientific achievement, entitled the “Jennett Plum Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to the Field of Brain Injury” which was supported by the Northeast Center for Special Care in Lake Katrine, New York, USA. This year, the award recognized the people for who it was named, Dr. Bryan Jennett, who recently passed away, and Dr. Fred Plum, for their contributions to the field of brain injury. The awardees each received a beautiful Tiffany engraved plate and a $5,000 cash award. Peter Jennett, Dr. Jennett's son, accepted the award on behalf of his father. An award acceptance speech video recording made by Dr. Jennett just prior to his death was also played. Dr. Joseph Fin's accepted the award on behalf of Dr. Plum who due to health reasons could not attend. Dr. Fins was a student of Dr. Plum’s and currently is a co-investigator with him. The award ceremony was very moving for all in attendance but particularly for persons who had the honor of working with either or both Dr. Jennett or Dr. Plum. The Gala and awards ceremony were felt by all in attendance to be a wonderful way to end what was a superb international congress.

seventhworldconferencepic2.JPGFrom left to right: Victor Zelek, PhD, Jorge Lains, MD, Nathan Zasler, MD and Gerry Brooks, CCC-SLP. Dr. Zelek and Mr. Brooks represented the NorthEast Center for Special Care who sponsored the Jennett Plum Award.

Ultimately, we were all very pleased with the international camaraderie that was clearly evident at the Congress and the quality of the science but also very glad to have the experience of being in the historic, beautiful setting of Pestana Palace, among the friendly Portuguese people enjoying wonderful local cuisine..

IBIA looks forward to meeting all those who joined us in Lisbon, as well as new participants, in the Spring of 2008 for the Eighth World Congress on Brain Injury scheduled to be held in the United States. Dr. Ross Zafonte, Chairman of the Department of PM&R at Harvard, has been named President for the 2010 meeting and we look forward to working together with him to make the next meeting the biggest and best IBIA meeting in the organization’s history.

Nathan D. Zasler, M.D. Chairperson, International Brain Injury Association

Jorge Lains, M.D. Past-President International Brain Injury Association Board of Governor's Member