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Conference in Brazil on Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
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City academic visits Brazil to discuss brain injury rehabilitation

Workshop brought together early career researchers interested in helping survivors of brain injury

by George Wigmore (Senior Communications Officer)

Dr Nicholas Behn, a Speech and Language Therapist from the Division of Language and Communication Science in the School of Health Sciences, was chosen for a recent international event in Brazil to discuss the neuropsychological rehabilitation of people with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).

Held on the 8-11th March at the Universidade Federal do Paraná in Brazil, the Newton ABI Links workshop brought together early career researchers interested in helping survivors of brain injury achieve an improved quality of life and improve neuropsychological rehabilitation services through the creation of a multicultural research network of interdisciplinary services.

ABI posterThe workshop was co-funded by the Newton Fund, which is a £375 million fund (£75 million a year for five years) that promotes the economic development and welfare of poor people in partnering countries through science and innovation partnerships. It aims to strengthen science and innovation capacity and unlock further funding to support poverty alleviation.

The fund is overseen by the Department for Businesses Innovation and Skills (BIS) and delivered through 15 UK delivery partners in collaboration with 15 partnering countries. Activities of the Newton Fund are in three broad areas, including increasing capacity for science and innovation in partner countries; research collaborations on development topics and creating collaborative solutions to development challenges; and strengthening innovation systems.

As the only Speech and Language Therapist chosen to participate from the UK, Dr Behn highlighted the importance of identifying and treating communication problems within an interdisciplinary team for people with ABI.

Speaking about the workshop, Dr Behn said:

“The workshop was a unique, inspirational and exhilarating experience to be part of. The process facilitated and encouraged active listening of others, respect for a wide variety of opinions, understanding of the different healthcare systems and challenges to research implementation, appreciation of different cultures with different values, and the importance of collaboration in the development of a good research strategy. New international research links were forged between disciplines across the two countries resulting in partnerships that are more likely to be stronger and long-lasting extending into the future.

“In addition to achieving this, I developed my understanding and knowledge of the research undertaken in a range of different areas including imaging, psychometrics, and technology application. Thanks to Andrew, Ana and the Newton Fund for allowing me to be part of such a worthwhile experience.”

The workshop was jointly co-ordinated by Dr Andrew Bateman (Oliver Zangwill Centre for Neuropsychological Rehabilitation) and Professor Ana Paula Almeida de Pereira (Universidade Federal do Paraná) and brought together around 40 early career researchers from both the UK and Brazil. There was a diverse range of professions including Psychologists, Neuropsychologists, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Clinical Scientists, Psychometricians and experts in areas such as Neuroengineering and imaging.

Dr Behn said: “Across the four days of the workshop, the group worked collaboratively using a roadmapping approach to identify research priorities across the UK and Brazil and across the many different disciplines involved. A dot voting technique was used to identify the most important research priorities. These priorities were then narrowed down to a single research idea that was discussed and developed in detail with the expertise of group members. The aim was to plan a future international interdisciplinary multicenter study, a key outcome of the workshop.”

Group participants tweeted information about the day using #ABILinks. A summary of tweets for the day can be found here: https://storify.com/NicholasBehn/abilinks-neuropsychological-rehabilitation-worksho

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