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Keynote Speakers


International Speakers

Tom Chau

Professor Tom Chau

Tom Chau, PhD, PEng, is Vice President of Research, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Director of the Bloorview Research Institute, the Raymond Chang Foundation Chair in Access Innovations, and a full Professor in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto.

His recent research has focused on the investigation of novel access pathways for children and youth with severe physical impairments. Chau has published 150 refereed scientific articles and holds 5 patents.

His lab has developed numerous innovations aimed at maximizing possibilities for children. These include: the Virtual Music Instrument, a software tool that allows children of all abilities to access music; numerous alternative access switches that harness physiological or biomechanical signals from the body; a novel prosthetic control system and a medical device to assess swallowing safety.

Giovanni Cioni

Professor Giovanni Cioni

Giovanni Cioni is Full Professor of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Italy. He obtained laurea cum laude, University of Florence, School of Medicine, and Specializations in Child Neurology and Psychiatry and in Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Pisa.

He also received special training in Neonatal Neurology at the University of Groningen, with Heinz Prechtl, and training in child neurology and rehabilitation in many Centres in Europe. He is currently Scientific Director of IRCCS Fondazione Stella Maris, National Biomedical Research Hospital for neurodevelopmental disorders, Director of PhD Programme in Neuroscience, and of the School of Specialization in Child Neurology and Psychiatry, University of Pisa.

His main research interests are: Early brain plasticity in relation to neurodevelopmental disorders (human and mouse models) and early intervention; Primary creatine deficiency disorders; Neuroimaging techniques (including Ultra High Field MR) and application to child neurology; New approaches to neurological evaluation of newborns and young infants; Short- and long-term follow-up of the newborn at risk for neurological damage; Central visual disorders in children.

He has been recipient of many international awards and author of more than 300 Publications in scientific journals and books (H index 45,  citations 6647, Febr. 2015). 

Richard Ellenson

Mr Richard Ellenson

Richard Ellenson brings enormous vision and energy to his role as CEO of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. In his first year, he has launched a major effort to transform basic healthcare for women with disabilities, developed a partnership with Microsoft and CPF network institutions to create technology that will allow people with disabilities to have an innovative interface for gaming, and launched a powerful communications campaign to address one of our great challenges: the awkwardness so many people feel around disabilities.

Richard joined the world of disabilities after his son Thomas, who was born in 1997, was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Since then has worked tirelessly to create awareness about people with disabilities and to share stories about their vibrant lives. Richard has been honored with the 2012 Visionary Leadership Award from Resources for Children with Special Needs, as a Caregiver of the Year by United Cerebral Palsy of NYC, and by many other organizations within the world of disabilities. He has served on the Advisory Council of the NIH’s National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders and on the boards of the Center on Disabilities at California State University at Northridge, the United States Society for Alternative and Augmentative Communication, and the Assistive Technology Industry Association. He has also been the recipient of two NIH grants.

Eileen G. Fowler

Dr. Eileen G. Fowler

Dr. Fowler is the current President of the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine.  She is a Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  She received her degree in Physical Therapy from Northeastern University in Boston and her PhD in Kinesiology from UCLA with a major in Biomechanics and a minor in Motor Control.  She holds the Peter William Shapiro Chair and is the Director of Research and Education for the UCLA Center for Cerebral Palsy and the Director of the Kameron Gait and Motion Analysis Laboratory. She is a faculty member in the Tarjan Center for Disabilities at UCLA and the Center for Duchenne Muscuar Dystrophy at UCLA.

Dr. Fowler has over 30 years experience in the evaluation and treatment of pediatric onset disabilities. Her research examines the effect of exercise, pharmacological and surgical interventions on spasticity, strength, gait and function.  Her early research refuted the premise that exercise performance increases spasticity.  A focus of her current research is reduced selective motor control in CP.  Her team developed the Selective Control Assessment of the Lower Extremity (SCALE), a clinical assessment. In addition, dynamic systems modeling and biomechanical models were used to identify selective motor control strategies during gait. Her current research explores the effect of selective motor control intervenitons on motor function and corticospinal tract integrity, using brain imaging technology. 

Virginia Wright

Associate Professor Virginia Wright

Virginia is a pediatric PT who became enamoured with outcomes research in the first decade of her career while working with children with arthritis. Her goal then and now was to figure out how to build measures that will do what we need them to do, and then get them into practice so that they can guide shared goal setting with children and parents.

To prepare herself for this challenge, she completed graduate studies (MSc and PhD) in the Health Research Methodology at McMaster University (Canada). She is currently a Senior Scientist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (Bloorview Research Institute) and Associate Professor at University of Toronto.

She keeps busy creating, testing and sharing measures, and applying them within gross motor-related intervention studies for children with neuromotor disorders. She is also involved in training the next generation of clinician scientists so they can carry the pediatric outcomes torch forward.



National Speakers

Christine Imms

Professor Christine Imms

Christine Imms is Professor of Occupational Therapy and Head of School of Allied Health at the Australian Catholic University.  Christine has a long standing interest in enhancing the participation of children and youth with cerebral palsy through contributing to investigations of longitudinal outcomes; the effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions; and development of measures. 

Christine is excited by the opportunities provided by the NHMRC funded Centre for Research Excellence - Cerebral Palsy to build knowledge and capacity in the field of cerebral palsy.

Christine's track record includes over $5.5million in research funding and more than 60 peer reviewed publications.

Sean Tweedy

Dr Sean Tweedy

Sean Tweedy has held the MAIC Research Fellowship in Physical Activity and Disability in the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, University of Queensland since 1997. His research program focuses on assisting people with neurological impairments to improve long-term health though physical activity. He uses two models of intervention – Paralympic sport and community-based physical activity promotion.

He is Principal Investigator for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Classification Research Centre and has recently focused on the therapeutic benefit of performance-driven sports training. Sean’s other research interest is in promotion of physically active behaviour among community-dwelling people with disabilities.

He coordinates the Adapted Physical Activity Program, a specialised clinical service for people with disabilities in the Brisbane area. He recently completed a randomised, controlled trial evaluating the service delivery model and is currently assisting with translation of the model to other regions of Australia.


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