Rick Hansen Institute
John Chernesky is the Consumer Engagement Lead at the Rick Hansen Institute. With nearly 25 years of lived experience of spinal cord injury (SCI) since being paralyzed in 1993, John has participated in dozens of research studies in addition to being a co-investigator on a number of research projects. His strong connection to the local SCI community as well as an international network of people living with SCI brings local, national and international consumer perspective to the SCI research field. He is recognized as a leader in engagement and integrated knowledge translation.
University of Louisville
Susan J. Harkema, PhD,Professor, holds the Owsley B. Frazier Rehabilitation Chair in Neurological Surgery and is the Associate Director of the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville. Over the last 20 years, her research has focused on neural plasticity of spinal networks and recovery of function after spinal cord injury. Her more recent studies have shown that people with chronic paralysis can regain the ability to voluntarily move their legs and stand independently with epidural stimulation. This broadened the scope of the translational research program to include technology development to improve implantable epidural stimulators. Dr. Harkema has maintained an NIH funded research program since 1998 in neuroplasticity after human spinal cord injury and served as the Director of an NIH-funded program project grant from 1998-2008.
Dr. Harkema has published more than 180 scholarly manuscripts and book chapters. She has delivered over 100 worldwide lectures and keynotes, has been a grant reviewer for the NIH, Roman Reed, Mission Connect, FISM Society, and has sat on numerous advisory boards and review panels. Many of her 28 mentored graduate students and post-doctoral fellows have excelled in their careers.
Dr. Harkema has co-authored seven United States patents and has received several honors and awards throughout her career. In 2007, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association nominated her into the SCI Hall of Fame for Achievement in Research in Quality of Life, and in 2008, Dr. Harkema was a co-recipient of the Reeve-Irvine Research Medal, awarded to individuals who have made critical contributions to promoting repair of the damaged spinal cord and recovery of function. In 2011, Dr. Harkema received the Difference Maker Award from the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics. She received the John Stanley Coulter Award for significant contribution to the field of rehabilitation by the ACRM in 2012 and received the Innovator of the Year award from Business First in 2014.
Dr. Harkema earned her Bachelor of Science and PhD from Michigan State University and conducted her postdoctoral fellowship in neurophysiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Dr Peter Batchelor is a clinical neurologist with a research interest in acute spinal cord injury. Current research is focused on the ability of hypothermia to lengthen the time available for surgical decompression of the spinal cord. An additional focus is the relationship between intracanal pressure and outcome. These studies underpin the Immediate Cooling and Emergency Decompression (ICED) clinical trial examining the ability of hypothermia initiated in the first 2 hrs after cervical spinal cord injury to “buy time” for surgical decompression. This trial is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Victorian Transport Accident Comission and has received the broad support of the wider Australian spinal surgical and medical community. The study and large number of collaborators has taken some years to develop. The first phase of the trial aimed at minimising the time to decompression and establishing methods of early assessment is largely complete and the second phase of the trial establishing safety, feasibility and outcome is commencing. In addition to an active clinician, clinical teacher, higher degree supervisor and principle investigator on the ICED trial, Dr Batchelor is a Senior Lecturer at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, The University of Melbourne. He is a member of the Spinal Cord Injury Network (SCIN) clinical trials committee, an association of key spinal clinicians in each state. This group is focused on assisting the development and implementation of multi-centre spinal cord injury clinical trials in Australia and New Zealand. Dr Batchelor is a member of the Australian Association of Neurologists, The Royal Australasian college of Physicians and the Australian Neuroscience Society. He has been a member of an NHMRC GRP and assesses grant applications for NHMRC and other funding agencies and well as reviewing papers for many journals and has been an invited speaker at numerous local meetings and national meetings. He is also a collaborator with the international CAMARADES group undertaking systematic review and meta-analysis of the pre-clinical literature. This work has produced a strong awareness of the reasons for bias and the pitfalls in study design.
The University Of Melbourne
David Berlowitz is a physiotherapist with the Victorian Respiratory Support Service who holds the University of Melbourne Chair in Physiotherapy at Austin Health. David was awarded his PhD in 2004 in which he discovered that acute cervical spinal cord injury results in sudden and severe obstructive sleep apnoea. David leads an international team of research collaborators, students and staff who examine the causes and treatments of sleep and breathing disorders in neuromuscular disease, especially in Spinal Cord Injury and Motor Neurone Disease. David has published more than 90 papers and attracted over $11.5million in research funding support. David’s other research interests include chronic disease management, registry development and program evaluation.
Dr Sandy Braaf is a Research Fellow at Pre-hospital, Emergency and Trauma group in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University. Her research focuses on the long-term recovery of people with traumatic injuries. She is also a Monash Partners Fellow working to implement a capacity-building program that strengthens consumer and community involvement in health research, health care innovation and improvement. She is a mixed methods researcher with projects in health communication, health literacy, health information, service provision for injured people, and the evaluation of interventions designed to improve long-term recovery.
Mel has been delivering physiotherapy services in the public health sector for 20 years. She has significant experience working with people with Spinal Cord Injury and led the inpatient rehabilitation physiotherapy team of the Victorian Spinal Cord Service for eight years.
Mel also has a passion for improvement and innovation. She loves working with clinicians and helping them tackle the problems that prevent them from delivering exceptional care to every patient. She currently works as an Improvement Lead within Austin Health’s Physiotherapy Department providing consultation and coaching to clinicians undertaking improvement projects.
Mel is a change agent of the future; optimistic about the potential for everyone to contribute to transformational change in healthcare.
As a qualified horticulturalist Anton has a keen interest growing all things edible. In his role as an Occupational Therapy Allied Health Assistant (Rehab) at the Victorian Spinal Cord Service, Anton has put this passion into practice.
In collaboration with inpatients Anton has created an Accessible Kitchen Garden (AKG), a unique quality initiative that combines the two fields to promote an engaging holistic approach to spinal rehabilitation.
Promoting inclusiveness, accessibility and independence, The Accessible Kitchen Garden (AKG) empowers wheelchair users to actively engage in therapy and acts as a demonstration space for what can be achieved beyond rehabilitation.
Born in the UK, Martin Heng gained a BA and MA in English literature from Cambridge University before embarking on a career as an editor in 1985. He recently completed an MA in Communications at RMIT University in Melbourne. He left England in 1987 and lived, worked and travelled on four continents before migrating to Australia to start a family. He has worked for Lonely Planet since 1999 in numerous roles, including seven years as Editorial Manager, when he was responsible for the production of all Lonely Planet books. A road accident in 2010 left him a quadriplegic. He is currently Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Manager & Editorial Adviser, a role he has held since 2013.
In his current role as Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Manager & Editorial Adviser, he has published a number of accessible travel titles, including a guide to Rio de Janeiro that was supplied to all athletes participating in the 2016 Paralympics. He also maintains the world’s largest collection of Accessible Travel Online Resources, now in its third edition, which was featured in the UNWTO’s Good Practice in the Accessible Tourism Supply Chain. His most recent publication is an Accessible Travel Phrasebook, featuring disability-specific words and phrases in 35 languages.
In 2014, he was a keynote speaker at the UNWTO-sponsored global accessible travel summit, Destinations for All, in Montréal and has since become a regular speaker on accessible tourism at events in Australia and around the world. In 2016, he was a VIP delegate and speaker at the UNWTO World Tourism Day event in Bangkok, “Tourism for All: Promoting Universal Accessibility”. In 2017, he opened the Barrier-Free Day at the world’s largest travel fair, the ITB in Berlin, and was a panellist at the UNWTO’s first Smart Cities conference in Murcia, Spain. In the same year, he was also a panellist at an Accessible Qatar conference in Doha. He was a member of the Destinations for All Programme Committee, assessing papers for inclusion in the summit in Brussels in 2018, and moderated a session at this event. He recently moderated the accessible tourism session at the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Asia-Pacific Sustainable Tourism Conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand, at the end of February. He is scheduled to moderate a session on accessible tourism at the Pacific Asia Tourism Association conference in Cebu, Philippines, in May.
In addition to these international speaking engagements, Martin frequently speaks and moderates sessions at local inclusive tourism events.
Gillean has extensive clinical, service development and research experience in spinal cord injury rehabilitation through the lens of an occupational therapist and leisure specialist. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2011, and then a PhD in 2017. Her doctoral thesis explored the complexity of seeking and maintaining employment for people following traumatic SCI, and the impact of rehabilitation practice changes on employment outcomes.
Gillean is currently leading a multisite audit related to vocational rehabilitation and employment outcome in Australia and New Zealand, and is heavily involved with improving systems interface and hospital discharge pathways with the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Australia. She is also teaching into occupational therapy postgraduate courses. Other current research includes investigating logic frameworks for peer-led interventions in Victoria, and she has recently commenced as project manager for a Transport Accident Commission funded randomised control trial. This new study will investigate the efficacy of early intervention vocational rehabilitation on employment outcome for people experiencing trauma.
Nick holds a degree in Human Movement, is an accredited accessibility consultant with the Accessibility Consultants Association of Australia and has qualifications for both the secondary and vocational educational sectors. In 1996 as part of the Aussie Rollers, he won a Paralympic Gold medal in Atlanta. In 1997 Nick was awarded an Order of Australia medal for his services to sport. After consulting on the 2000 Olympics and Paralympics, Nick was invited to become the inaugural expert accessibility advisor for the International Paralympic Committee which he did from 2004 – 2012. This required him to mentor organisers of Commonwealth, Asian, Pan American and Paralympic Games as to how to create accessibility within their cities. Nick has also been on ABC TV program “New Inventors” as a Judge and is currently a judge for the Australian Event Awards.
The University of Melbourne
Dr Jeanette Tamplin PhD, M.Mus, B.Mus (Hons), RMT, holds an NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellowship at the University of Melbourne and works as a music therapist at the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre - Austin Health. Jeanette has worked as a music therapist in neurorehabilitation over the past 20 years and her research in this area focuses on the therapeutic effects of singing, speech and language rehabilitation, therapeutic songwriting, and coping and adjustment following neurological injury or illness. She coordinates and collaborates with several different research teams, and thus far has generated AUD$2.5 million in grant funding.Jeanette is regularly invited to present at national and international fora. She publishes regularly in international and interdisciplinary refereed journals, has contributed chapters to several edited books on music therapy and co-authored a book with Prof Felicity Baker: ‘Music Therapy Methods in Neurorehabilitation: A Clinician’s Manual’ (Jessica Kingsley Publishers).
Steven Wells has successfully combined his nursing and horticulture careers to be working as an acquired brain injury rehabilitation clinical nurse specialist, a horticultural therapist and the Gardens and Grounds Program Project Officer at Austin Health in Melbourne. He is a passionate advocate for therapeutic horticulture and gardens within healthcare settings and the benefits that they have for patients, their families and staff.
Steven has developed the horticultural therapy program and sensory gardens at Austin Health’s Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre and then in his project officer role has developed additional gardens throughout Austin Health’s three campuses. Steven is the 2012 ABC Gardening Australia magazine ‘Gardener of the Year’ and was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship in 2015 to research the development, use and management of therapeutic gardens in healthcare settings. He has recently been a guest presenter on ABC Gardening Australia, sharing stories on therapeutic horticulture. Steven is the President of the Therapeutic Horticulture Australia national association.