The International Brain Injury Association (IBIA) was founded by George A. Zitnay, PhD, and Martin B. Foil, Jr., following an international meeting on brain injury held in Oxford, United Kingdom at Oxford University in April of 1993. The group assembled in Oxford agreed that a need existed for an international organization that worked with professionals and families from a multidisciplinary approach; thus, IBIA was formed.

IBIA was established with the following goals in mind: to encourage an international exchange of information, to support research, to provide training especially in developing countries, and to advocate for brain injury. One of the approaches to achieve these goals was the creation of the World Congress on Brain Injury. Another approach was the creation of member states and organizations. IBIA also encouraged the development of country-wide associations, created by families and professionals joining to support brain injury research and service development.

The first World Congress was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Chaired by Professor Anne-Lise Christensen, PhD. Subsequent World Congresses on Brain injury followed in Seville, Spain, chaired by Professor Jose Leon Carrion, PhD; Quebec City, Canada; Turin, Italy, chaired by Professor Claudio Perino, MD; Stockholm, Sweden; Melbourne, Australia, chaired by Professor Jennie Ponsford, PhD; Lisbon, Portugal, organized by Jorge Lains, MD; and Washington, DC, organized by Ross Zafonte, DO. The 2012 World Congress was held in the historic city of Edinburgh, Scotland, and was hosted by Tom McMillan, PhD. The 2014 Congress was held in San Francisco, California and was organized by David Arciniegas, MD. The 2016 Congress was held in The Hague, The Netherlands and was organized by Gerrard Ribbers. Moving to an odd year pattern in 2017, the Congress was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was organized by Lisa Brenner, PhD.

To fulfill the mandate for training, IBIA developed a series of professional seminars. The first IBIA seminar was a four-day training program at Charles University in Prague, the Czech Republic, chaired by Professor Olga Swetlova, MD; a four-day training program in Lithuania, a four-day training program in Bangalore, India, chaired by Guru Raj, MD, and a four-day international meeting in Brasilia, Brazil hosted by the SARAH Network and Chaired by Lucia Braga, PhD.

IBIA has worked with other organizations in the development of evidence-based medical and scientific guidelines for the care, treatment, and management of traumatic brain injury (TBI), including support for the development of guidelines on mild TBI, penetrating head injury, acute TBI and the vegetative state. IBIA took the lead with the World Health Organization (WHO) in developing the WHO Neurotrauma Committee, which approved these guidelines and encouraged adoption by member states. IBIA and WHO created prevention programs and published material on the programs. IBIA also worked with WHO in the world effort to prevent violence, a leading cause of brain injury.

Professors Henry Stonnington, MD, and Sheldon Berrol, MD, along with other internationally known clinicians in TBI care and rehabilitation, founded the International Association for the Study of Traumatic Brain Injury (IASTBI) in the early 1980s as a professional networking organization for clinicians working in the field on an international basis.

At the encouragement of Professor Nathan Zasler, MD, and with agreement by Dr. Stonnington (following Dr. Berrol’s untimely death) and Dr. Zitnay, IBIA and IASTBI merged in 1998 to create a stronger professional association dedicated to brain injury with IASTBI becoming the “scientific” arm of IBIA. This merger resulted in the peer-reviewed journal Brain Injury becoming the official journal of IBIA. The journal was originally founded by Professor Stonnington in 1983 and has evolved into one of the leading international neuroscience publications. More recently, IBIA launched another publication, the International NeuroTrauma Letter (INTL). In May 2013, the International Paediatric Brain Injury Society (IPBIS) became an affiliate of IBIA. In 2016, the North American Brain Injury Society (NABIS) became an affiliate of IBIA. Also, in 2016, the Disorders of Consciousness Special Interest Group (DoC SIG) was formed by Drs. Nathan Zasler and Caroline Schnakers within IBIA.

IBIA has evolved in many ways as an organization over its relatively short existence. There is still much history to be made.

IBIA World Congress Site History