The 42nd Annual ASSBI Conference was held this year collaboration with the New Zealand Rehabilitation Association (NZRA) at the TSB Arena in Wellington, New Zealand. Wellington is known for its somewhat unpredictable and occasionally unforgiving weather, but put on a phenomenal three days of sunshine and clear skies for us.
The conference theme this year was: “A Call to Action”, drawing on the primary objectives of the World Health Organisation’s Rehabilitation Strategy to 2030. The conference was attended by 261 registrants from all corners of the world: Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA, Estonia, Hong Kong and The Russian Federation. The programme involved plenary sessions from international and national speakers, plus four highly successful preconference workshops, 56 platform papers, 26 datablitz papers, 46 posters, and 5 ‘How to’ sessions.
The conference was opened on the evening of Day 1, with a welcome from Mark Orbsby and Leigh Andrews – mana whenua representatives from Te Whanganui-a-Tara (the Wellington region). Prior in the day, our keynote speakers (Prof. Fiona Jones, Prof. Fary Kahn, Prof. Jonathan Evans, and Dr Matire Harwood) had provided a series of workshops on topics including: self-management after brain injury, practical aspects of research methods, rehabilitation of memory and executive function and strategies to better meet the needs of indigenous people.
On Day 2, Fiona Jones provided an inspiring talk on her CREATE project, which has involved co-production principles to improve patient, carer and staff experiences in inpatient stroke units in the UK. A key message from this presentation was how much could be achieved through robust partnerships between patients, families and health professionals.
Following this plenary, a panel discussion on the topic of “Upscaling Rehabilitation: Policy, Practice, and Politics” was led by Dr Kathie Irwin (Head of Māori and Cultural Capability at the Accident Compensation Corporation, NZ), Anne Hawker (Principle Disability Advisor for the Ministry of Social Development, NZ), and Prof Kath McPherson (Chief Executive of the Health Research Council, NZ). These three fabulous speakers gently challenged our ideas about how to develop rehabilitation in the future, including how to break out of status quo thinking on service delivery and community engagement.
Annual General Meetings for both ASSBI and NZRA were held on Day 2, which saw the election of Prof Robyn Tate and myself to the roles of President for these two organisations, respectively. Our conference dinner was held that evening at the Harbourside Function Venue on the Wellington harbour. Many moves were busted out on the dance floor. No hips were dislocated to anyone’s knowledge. Word has it that the night did not end when the Harbourside Function Venue closed at midnight, but continued – at least for some – in a karaoke bar down the street into the wee hours of the morning.
Day 3 began with an insightful, thought-provoking and wide-ranging presentation from Jon Evans on the topic of music, mindfulness and positive psychotherapy after brain injury. This was followed by many more platform, data blitz, and ‘how to’ presentations throughout the day, covering topics from: paediatric rehabilitation, to information technology in rehabilitation, to research into collaborative approaches and diverse perspectives in rehabilitation. The day, and conference, ended with our award ceremony and prizes. The following is a list of prizes and awarded given out on the day:
- Douglas Tate Award 2018 - Alice Theadom for her publication in Brain Impairment. 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?
- ASSBI Student Awards -
o Kevin Walsh Award – Jai Carmichael for his presentation entitled: Readiness of Community ABI Therapists to Learn and Implement Positive Behaviour Support: A Mixed-Methods Study
o Luria Award – Kellie Stagg for her presentation entitled: Communication impairment and the working alliance in stroke rehabilitation
o Travel Award – Owen Lloyd for his presentation entitled: Impaired Self-Awareness after Paediatric Traumatic Brain Injury: Liability or Protective Factor
o Best Poster Presentation award - Fiona Kumfor for her poster entitled: Prevalence and neurocognitive basis of delusions in dementia
o Best Student Presentation award - Jesse Shapiro for her presentation entitled: No diffusion imaging correlate of paediatric post-concussion syndrome: a TBSS study
- Mindlink Brightwater award was won by Vanessa Rausa - Delivering concussion evidence to the community: A digital solution
One last highlight of the conference which needs to be mentioned is the amazing artwork of Paul Telling from Visual StoryTeller. Paul worked harder than perhaps anybody else at the conference, continuously designing storyboard posters about each presentation as they were being presented. The art from this work was on display in the venue foyer for reading and enjoying between sessions. A great many of these storyboards went home with presenters and audience members alike and are now no doubt in offices and rehabilitation centres throughout NZ and Australia.
A big thank you to everyone who made this conference a success. Thank you to all our conference partners: ACC, Laura Fergusson New Zealand, Drake Medox, ABI Rehabillitation, AUT University’s Centre for Person Centred Research, University of Otago’s Rehabilitation Teaching and Research Centre, Cambridge University Press, AUT University, Brain Research New Zealand, the University of New South Wales. Thank you also to the 2019 Conference Organising Committee: Nicola Kayes, Jacinta Douglas, Leanne Togher, Debbie Snell, Felicity Bright, Jonathan Armstrong and Andrew Clarkson as well as the Scientific Committee. Finally, none of this could have been achieved without, of course, the fabulous direction and support of Margaret Eagers. Thank you all for making the ASSBI/NZRA conference 2019 such a fantastic success.
A/Prof William Levack
Conference ConvenorWilliam Levack is an Associate Professor of Rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Teaching & Research Unit, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand. Twitter: @DrLevack