July is an important month in the world of neuropsychology. Time of the International Neuropsychological Society (INS) Mid-Year Meeting which, since 2004, has been followed by the Conference of the Neuropsychological Rehabilitation Special Interest Group of the World Federation for Neurorehabilitation (NR-SIG-WFNR).
The 5th Pacific Rim Conference was held in Sydney and, along with the INS meeting, incorporated the Australasian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment (ASSBI) 38th Annual Brain Impairment Conference. The INS conference typically covers all areas of neuropsychology, and this year’s keynote speakers reflected this comprehensive range of topics. Professor John Hodges gave a talk on “Frontotemporal dementia in the context of the genetic revolution”, Professor Leanne Carey focussed on translation of neuroscience to neurorehabilitation in stroke, and Professor Mark Sherer presented a new classification system in the post-acute period of recovery for persons with traumatic brain injury.
The NR-SIG-WFNR meeting was held in Daydream Island, in Queensland, Australia. This multidisciplinary conference incorporates all rehabilitation disciplines, and its primary focus is the rehabilitation of neuropsychological sequelae of acquired brain injury and other neurological problems.
The Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) had a good representation at both conferences. Dr Brian O’Neill (Graham Anderson House) chaired a session at the INS on the use of technology to support instrumental actions in those with memory and executive function impairment. The symposium covered the effectiveness of technology-based prompting for task sequencing in the home, self-management of diabetes in those with cognitive impairment and it also discussed the factors that influence technology use. Dr Andrew James (Daniel Yorath House) presented a study that investigated the relationship between executive dysfunction and behaviour and found that, contrary to predictions, better language ability was related with more behaviours of concern.
At the NR-SIG-WFNR conference, the BIRT team had presentations covering assessment and intervention in neurorehabilitation. Dr Andrew James described a case of feral childhood and considered the implications that an unusual background may have for formulation, evaluation of performance in formal neuropsychological tests and for the delineation of interventions. Other presentations, delivered by Dr O’Neill and Dr Sara da Silva Ramos included a report on the development of a new occupational therapy tool to assess functional skills upon transition from intensive rehabilitation to community living settings, as well as evaluations of new intervention approaches, such as the use of technology to scaffold performance and support learning of activities of daily living, and mental rehearsal to enhance goal achievement.
BIRT’s contributions were well received, and the two events presented an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and share good practice with the World’s experts in the field. The 2016 edition of the two conferences will be closer to home in London (INS) and Glasgow (NR-SIG-WFNR). We can’t but say we’re already looking forward!