Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance

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Annual Conference for Professionals in Brain Injury

Thursday Conference Schedule

8 - 9 a.m. - Registration and Exhibits Open

Exhibits are open daily 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

8:45 - 9 a.m. - Opening Remarks

9 - 10:30 a.m. - Keynote Address

Collaborative Safety: A Model for Health and Human Services
Scott Modell, PhD, Founder, Collaborative Safety, LLC;
Kelly Knutson, MSW, MSc, Senior Director, Collaborative Safety, LLC

When agencies blame and punish staff, they assume they are holding their employees to account for their actions. However, years of research show that blame may in fact decrease accountability by inhibiting the ability of the organization to learn and improve. Scott Modell and Kelly Knutson lead a discussion on how agencies can create a culture of safety by prioritizing accountability over blame. This session delves into how organizations can achieve better outcomes by removing barriers and providing supportive systems throughout the agency.

Scott ModellScott J. Modell received his Ph.D. from the College of Education at Florida State University in 1997. Dr. Modell is the Chief Executive Officer of MCG Consulting and Co-Founder of Collaborative Safety. From 2013 to 2016, he served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services. He has also served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Prior to moving to Tennessee, Dr. Modell spent fifteen years as a Professor at California State University, Sacramento. Over his last five years at the university, he additionally served as Director of the university's Autism Center for Excellence. He is an expert in child abuse, crime victims with disabilities, disability etiology, and interview techniques. He has authored thirteen books and has over 300 published articles and abstracts. Dr. Modell is frequently invited to lecture at national and international conferences regarding child abuse and crime victims with disabilities. He has taught for the Office of Victims of Crime (OVC), National Children's Advocacy Center (NCAC), National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), The Icelandic Government Agency for Child Protection, and the Singapore National Council of Social Service (NCSS). Additionally, Dr. Modell and his colleagues were recognized as pioneers in safety science by the Federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities. His workshops and trainings have reached thousands of police officers, educators, child protective service and adult protective service professionals across the country. He has received international recognition for his work in the area of crime victims and interview techniques for individuals with disabilities.

Kelly KnutsonKelly Knutson, MSW, M.Sc. serves as a Senior Director with Collaborative Safety, LLC where she supports agencies across the United States with the development and implementation of Human Factors and Systems Safety (Safety Science) into their systems of care. This includes working with a variety of health and human service systems such as Child Welfare, Behavioral Health, Disability Services, Licensing, Health Regulation, and Human Resources. In 2008, Ms. Knutson earned her Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota, Duluth with a specialized focus on working with American Indian communities. In 2021, she completed her graduate work at Lund University in the Master's Degree program in Human Factors and Systems Safety. As the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Supervisor in the Minnesota Department of Child Safety and Permanency Division, Ms. Knutson was instrumental in supporting the application of human factors and systems safety analysis with the Department's statewide continuous quality improvement efforts. In addition to her extensive experience within the child welfare field, including specialized training and efforts to support trauma informed child welfare systems, Ms. Knutson has a range of experiences working within human services that include juvenile justice, chemical dependency, and child and adult mental health.

10:30 - 11 a.m. - Break and Exhibits Open

11 a.m. - 12 p.m. - Breakout Sessions I

  1. Collaborative Safety: A Model for Health and Human Services Part 2
    Kelly Knutson, MSW, MSc, Senior Director, Collaborative Safety
    Kelly Knutson, Senior Director with Collaborative Safety, will guide participants through development of a culture of safety within agencies. This session focuses on how such a culture not only increases staff retention but also ensures that employees feel empowered to discuss barriers they experience that impact care quality and safety. Attendees will also explore concepts from safety science, behavioral analysis, and trauma-informed care, all proven to enhance organizational learning and improvement efforts in safety-critical industries.

  2. Grief and Loss After Brain Injury
    Robert L Karol, Ph.D., ABPP-RP, CBIST, President, Karol Neuro + Rehab Consulting
    Grieving after loss is to be expected. However, grief is often misunderstood after brain injury. Dr. Robert L. Karol examines the unique aspects of grief following brain injury, highlighting the factors that influence the grieving process and the importance of understanding these dynamics.

    PDF document

  3. Art as a Tool for Supporting Wellness after Acquired Brain Injury
    Amy Kemp, PhD, CCC-SLP, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Department of Veterans Affairs;
    Olivia Vruwink, MS, CCC-SLP, Doctoral Student, University of Minnesota;
    S. Kaytlyn Gregory, Undergraduate Student, University of Georgia;
    Katy O'Brien, PhD, CCC-SLP, Senior Scientific Advisor, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute

    Amy Kemp, Olivia Vruwink, S. Kaytlyn Gregory, and Katy O'Brien explore the therapeutic role of art as a tool in processing the experiences of those with acquired brain injuries. Based on a study of 1,021 art-based narratives from the Unmasking Brain Injury Project, this panel discusses the positive influences of spirituality, recreation and social health as well as the negative portrayals of emotional, cognitive and physical health.

    PDF document

  4. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as a Chronic Disease
    Diane Mortimer, MD, MSN, FAAPMR, Medical Director, Inpatient Brain Injury/ Polytrauma Rehabilitation and Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center, Minneapolis VA Health Care System;
    Paola Toussaint-Gonzalez, MD, Resident Physician, University of Minnesota Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

    TBI survivors and their caregivers often face significant stressors following the acute phase of recovery. Diane Mortimer and Paola Toussaint-Gonzalez advocate for a chronic illness model in TBI management, focusing on anticipating and preventing complications such as medication non-adherence, falls, and housing issues while implementing post-injury adaptations to optimize survivors' quality of life.

    PDF document

  5. Proactive and Reactive Strategies for Caregivers Working with Individuals with Brain Injury
    Jodi Greenstein, MSW, LICSW, CBIS, Supervisor, Community Behavioral Services, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute;
    Jennifer Kempenich, MA, CBIS, LPCC, Positive Support Professional, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute;
    Alison Curtis, MS, CBIS, Positive Support Professional, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute;
    Jody Vorderbruggen, BA, Positive Support Analyst, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute

    Staff from Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute's Community Behavioral Services will share proactive and reactive strategies to help address frequently encountered behavioral challenges when working with individuals who have a diagnosis of brain injury. Practical approaches for caregivers will be shared, including addressing situations both when behaviors occur and to help prevent behaviors from occurring.

    PDF document

  6. Sensory Changes After Brain Injury
    Christina Traquair Ball, OTR/L, CBIS, Occupational Therapist, National Dizzy and Balance Center
    Christina Traquair Ball addresses the effects of sensory changes in both the acute and chronic phases of brain injury. Ball offers strategies for symptom management and education for team members to minimize the impact of common sensory changes in everyday life roles and functions.

    PDF document - Presentation PDF document - Handouts

12 - 1 p.m. - Lunch

1 - 2 p.m. - Breakout Session II

  1. Capacity to Consent to Sexual Behavior for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities
    Scott Modell, PhD, Founder, Collaborative Safety, LLC;
    Kelly Knutson, MSW, MSc, Senior Director, Collaborative Safety, LLC

    Historically, individuals with disabilities have faced barriers to sexual expression and freedom, often encountering service delivery systems that emphasize repression and overprotection rather than empowerment. This keynote address challenges these norms by affirming that intimate relationships among adults with disabilities are not illegal, emphasizing that legality becomes a consideration only if the individual is below the state's legal age of consent or has been determined as lacking the capacity to consent. Capacity to consent in this context specifically refers to the ability to engage in sexual activity with understanding and voluntariness. There are distinct aspects that differentiate sexual consent capacity from other consent capacities. Research indicates that individuals with intellectual disabilities often possess lower levels of sexual knowledge, have less experience with dating, intimacy, and sexual interactions, and have fewer opportunities to learn about sexual health. This lack of knowledge, relationship experience, and protection skills not only increases their vulnerability to abuse but also may impair their ability to recognize abusive situations. Consequently, service providers find themselves uncertain regarding their roles and responsibilities towards the sexual behavior and desires of the individuals they serve. This uncertainty is compounded by concerns over legal repercussions and the broader challenges faced by service providers, law enforcement, and the legal system in addressing issues of sexuality and consent for adults with disabilities. This presentation aims to shine a light on the legal and ethical issues surrounding the capacity to consent to sexual behavior, with a specific emphasis on the assessment of such capacity.

  2. Evidence-based Care for Pediatric Concussion Patients
    Heather Sesma, PhD, LP, Clinical Director, Concussion Program, Children's MN
    Heather Sesma reviews a multimodal approach to pediatric concussion evaluation, emphasizing individualized treatment plans based on clinical trajectories. Sesma covers current guidelines for rest and exertion after injury and strategies and interventions to mitigate risk factors for prolonged recovery.

  3. 2024 Public Policy – Legislative Update
    Jeff Nachbar, Public Policy Director, Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance
    Jeff Nachbar provides an update on the 2024 Legislative Session as it pertains to the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance's policy goals; the latest legislative developments affecting the brain injury community; and ongoing advocacy efforts, challenges and opportunities.

  4. From Vitamin A to Zinc: Review of Vitamins and Minerals in TBI
    Matthew Puderbaugh, DO, Brain Injury Physiatrist, Hennepin Healthcare;
    Brionn Tonkin, MD, Physiatrist, Minneapolis VA Medical Center

    Recent clinical practice guidelines have advocated for the use of mineral supplements, including zinc and magnesium, as well as vitamin D supplements, to prevent worsening outcomes in TBI. Matthew Puderbaugh and Brionn Tonkin explore the emerging evidence supporting the role of vitamin and mineral supplementation in improving outcomes in TBI patients.

    PDF document

  5. Charismatic Management of Traumatic Brain Injury
    Sherri Biewer, Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse, Registered Nurse, Mayo Clinic;
    Andrew McMonigle, Registered Nurse, Mayo Clinic

    Caring for a patient with brain injury can be both challenging and rewarding. Sherri Biewer and Andrew McMonigle share educational examples and personal narratives to illustrate the importance of understanding functional brain anatomy in order for providers to enhance communication and care strategies for brain injury patients.

    PDF document

  6. Effectively Responding to Brain Injury Symptoms and Substance Use Disorders
    Thomas G. Beckers, BS,LADC,CBIS, Director of Residential Services, Vinland National Center
    Thomas G. Beckers combines 18 years of expertise to guide service providers in adjusting their methods to better engage and support individuals with co-occurring brain injuries and substance use disorders. Using experiential activities and illustrative slides, Beckers will highlight ways providers can improve outcomes regardless of who they serve.

    PDF document

2 - 2:30 p.m. - Break and Exhibits Open

2:30 - 3:30 p.m. - Breakout Session III

  1. College and Brain Injury: Understanding and Meeting the Range of Student Needs
    Katy H. O'Brien, PhD, CCC-SLP, Senior Scientific Advisor, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute at Allina Health
    College students with brain injury face unique needs. Katy H. O'Brien discusses current and recent research into these needs, including psychosocial support across all severities and cognitive rehabilitation interventions to enhance educational success for those with long-term effects.

  2. Returning to Work After Brain Injury
    Briana Johnson, MS, CRC, Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist, Minneapolis VA Medical Center
    Briana Johnson addresses return to work and continued employment following brain injury. She offers insights into assessing work readiness for individuals with brain injury; strategies for setting realistic long-and-short-term vocational goals; and identifying resources, strategies and accommodations to facilitate the return to work process.

    PDF document

  3. Turning the Lights Off to Turn the Brain Back On: From Agitation-Induced Assault to Independence
    Heidi Menard, MA, BSN, RN, NE-BC, Nursing Director, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health;
    Abi Daramola, MBA, BSN, RN-BC, Patient Care Supervisor, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health

    Sensory impairments are common following brain injury and can lead to patient agitation. Heidi Menard, and Abi Daramola present a case study on using two tools – an Environmental Management System and the Agitated Behavior Scale – to significantly reduce agitation and improve independence in an Inpatient Rehabilitation patient.

    PDF document

  4. Survivor's Story
    Ray Winstrad
    Ray Widstrand recounts the events that lead up to his brain injury as well as his story of survival and recovery. Ray also discusses the resources and strategies that have been helpful throughout his recovery process, and offers tips and tricks for best supporting brain injury.

    PDF document

  5. Aging in Traumatic Brain Injury: Practical Considerations
    Zainab Al Lawati, MD, FRCPC, FAAPMR, Assistant Professor, Rehabilitation Medicine Spasticity Program Director, University of Minnesota
    Zainab Al Lawati presents a holistic approach to managing chronic traumatic brain injury, focusing on the bio-psycho-social model of care. Al Lawati covers clinical strategies, therapeutic interventions, and resources for community integration.

    PDF document

  6. Legends of the Falls: An Overview of TBI in Minnesota
    Kate Anderson, Data Research Specialist, Minnesota Department of Health
    Kate Anderson provides a comprehensive overview of TBI in Minnesota, including demographics, causes, outcomes, and available services, highlighting the role of the Minnesota Department of Health and its partners in achieving best possible outcomes.

    PDF document

2024 Annual Conference Sponsors


Online Registration
Continuing Education Unit InformationCancellation Policy