By Stephanie Bechelet, Domestic Abuse and Brain Injury Researcher
As readers may have seen on our company news earlier this month, members of our Foundation team (the team responsible for policy and innovation with the Trust) attended the 14th World Congress on Brain Injury in Dublin. This biennial conference is organised by the International Brain Injury Association (IBIA) and it is the largest gathering of international professionals working in the field of brain injury – so it was the perfect place for to present some of our most recent work and establish new connections.
It was great to hear on diverse topics from a broad range of speakers from all over the world, many of whom are globally renowned and leading in their respective areas. The programme included over 200 oral presentations, 600 poster presentations, five keynote speeches and more – so we were spoilt for choice.
There were several highlights, one of which was hearing Dr. Carrie Esopenko talk about the progress of the ENIGMA (Enhancing Neuroimaging and Genetics through Meta-Analysis) Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) working group. The ENIGMA consortium created the IPV Working Group to develop global collaboration that includes researchers, clinicians, and other key community stakeholders. We are joining this global knowledge exchange network as part of our current brain injury (BI) and domestic abuse (DA) project, and as a researcher in the field, I am personally very keen to see how our work can contribute to this global community.
Another great presentation was led by Dr. Kate Gould and Professor Jennie Ponsford from Monash University. They shared their findings from the PBS (Positive Behaviour Support) Plus project, an evidence-based approach to helping adults build a meaningful life and self-regulate behaviour after brain injury, which focuses on goal attainment and delivering positive behaviour support interventions for challenging behaviours following acquired brain injury.
We also attended seminars discussing the latest research on the links between brain injuries and domestic abuse, the connections of brain injuries and the criminal justice system, and the importance of female concussion protocols for women athletes.
We welcomed the opportunity to present our findings at a session focused on brain injury in the Criminal Justice system. Sarah Turner, Foundation Project Manager, presented our findings on the associations between traumatic brain injury and domestic violence within women in a UK prison. This focused on our research at HMP Drake Hall [1, 2]. It provided an overview of how we first came to look at brain injuries in survivors of domestic abuse. I discussed the lessons learned from domestic abuse survivors and practitioners while developing and implementing the Trust’s project on acquired brain injury . Focusing on the importance of co-production with research participants, being led by those with lived experiences, and adopting a trauma-informed approach.
The impact of brain injury on people in the criminal justice system and on survivors of domestic abuse are both significant areas of focus for the Trust, and so it was great to be able to update on progress and make new connections with other researchers and practitioners working in these areas. The team who attended came away full of new ideas on how to improve the lives of people with brain injury and are looking forward to exploring ways of putting them in practice. All accepted abstracts will be published on IBIA’s official journal, Brain Injury, so look out for the World Congress special edition!
 The Disabilities Trust (2019). Making the Link: Female Offending and Brain Injury.
 The Disabilities Trust (2019). The Impact of Brain Injury and Domestic Abuse: A further Analysis.
 The Disabilities Trust (2022). Campaigns: Brain Injury and Domestic Abuse