ABIL would like to say a huge thank you to the many people who joined us for our wonderful 10 year anniversary conference. We would also like to thank our superb speakers for providing such an interesting afternoon and to Irwin Mitchell, whose support enabled us to celebrate in style with celebratory food and refreshments.
The conference kicked off with a welcome from myself as Chair and a summary of ABIL’s activities and achievements over the last 10 years. I thanked past and present Executive Committee members for their hard work and in particular acknowledged the unwavering commitment of Norman Keen, who was presented with an award in recognition of this. I thanked past and present presenters for giving up their time to share, inform and educate and to all the delegates who attended conferences and events and benefited from the networking opportunities which these presented. ABIL would not be able to work in the way it does without the ongoing support of Irwin Mitchell and Tony thanked Alison Eddy (partner), Emma Taylor (Business Development Manager) and Karolina Formella for all they have done and continue to do for ABIL.
Alison spoke with pride about Irwin Mitchell’s association and continued support of ABIL, what it represents and the value they place on being involved in this important area of work. As personal injury solicitors, Irwin Mitchell understands the impact that a brain injury can have on survivors and their family and friends.
Amanda Swain, Vice-chair of UKABIF explained how ABIL, and the other acquired brain injury forums across many UK regions, come under the umbrella of UKABIF. Amanda explained UKABIF’s past and present activities, future plans and the value of UKABIF membership.
Dr Richard Greenwood (Consultant Neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and Lead Clinician at the Acute Brain Injury Unit, Queen Square) provided a unique perspective in his presentation, when reflecting on services for brain injury by health and social care in London over the last 10 years. Never afraid to tell it as it is, Richard’s inimitable style and dry wit gave us all plenty to think about. Richard acknowledged areas in which progress has been made, with the major trauma centres providing a good example of this; however, unco-ordinated health and social care services mean that people fall through the gaps and patients are often needlessly stuck in hospitals and do not receive the care, support and rehabilitation they need.
Research continues to be hugely important in the field of brain injury and we were delighted to welcome Professor David Sharp (Imperial College), and his fascinating presentation ‘How can we improve recovery after TBI: lessons from the DREAM study’ (Dopamine’s Role in Enhancing Attention and Memory). David and his team are conducting a clinical trial of the drug methylphenidate as a cognitive enhancer in the TBI population. Advanced MRI is being used to explore why some patients develop these impairments and to try and predict the response of individuals to the drug. The drug increases dopamine levels in the brain and the trial is mapping damage to this system and using functional MRI to assess whether the drug normalises brain network function. A reflection on different approaches to brain injury rehabilitation in the military and NHS sectors was delivered by
Dr Emer McGilloway (Consultant and Clinical Lead for Rehabilitation at Kings College Hospital), who has extensive experience in both sectors. Much medical advancement has been made as a result of development by the military, and the civilian population has benefited as a result. Perhaps inevitably, the area of resources, provision and funding was palpable, but one of the key factors in successful outcomes was the amount of rehabilitation time afforded to military personnel, which was often in contrast to what would be commissioned in the NHS.
A panel comprising Richard, David and Emer enabled delegates to make their own points and ask questions. It was clearly evident from their presentations and the ensuing discussions that the panel are hugely knowledgeable and passionate about their work and committed to working to improve and develop services for brain injury survivors and their loved ones.
The conference closed with a take home message – that there are still many challenges facing the brain injury world, but we all need to work together if we are to effect positive change. On this note, we retired to enjoy celebratory food and refreshments, to discuss the conference and to network. We look forward to seeing you at many more conferences and events, and of course to celebrating ABIL’s 20 year anniversary in 2028, where we can reflect on the achievements of our 2018 vision. We hope you can join us for this – date to be confirmed in due course!
Tony Hart – Chair of ABIL
The programme and following presentations can be downloaded here:
Professor David Sharp
Dr Emer McGilloway