Plenary Speakers 2017

World-Class Content: 2017 Plenary Lineup


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WED, 25 OCT // 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM

Rehabilitation: Where are We Now and Where do We Need to Be?

Gary Ulicny, PhD, FACRM, President and CEO, GRU Healthcare

As professionals we tout the virtues and benefits of rehabilitation and we hear the term evidence based practice. However, if we take the time to evaluate where we are as a field it becomes clear that we have very little evidence to differentiate the outcomes of comprehensive rehabilitation from other venues. This presentation will focus on the current state of our science and is it enough to document our worth in a world that is hurtling towards demonstrating value -- where have we gone wrong and what do we need to do to flourish in this new healthcare environment.

Gary Ulicny SpeakingDr. Gary Ulicny has been involved in medical administration for over 30 years. He is currently the President and CEO of GRU Health Care, an international consulting group specializing in building business and treatment cultures that promote excellence. For almost 23 years, he served as the President and CEO of Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, a 152-bed hospital that specializes in the treatment of persons with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and other neuromuscular disorders. During Dr. Ulicny’s tenure, Shepherd Center has for 14 years been ranked in US News & World Report as one of the best rehabilitation hospitals in the nation, been presented with the Edward Loveland Award for Distinguished Contributions in Healthcare by the American College of Physicians, selected as the Hospital of The Year by the Georgia Alliance of Hospitals, and named one of Atlanta’s Best Employers by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and Atlanta magazine.  In addition, Shepherd Center has enjoyed model systems designation, both for spinal cord and brain injuries by the National Institute on Disability, Rehabilitation and Research.  Dr. Ulicny received the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to healthcare and was elected as a Fellow of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. He received his PhD in behavioral psychology from the University of Kansas in 1986.  He is published extensively in the area of rehabilitation and has held adjunct appointments in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and in the Department of Human Development at the University of Kansas. Dr. Ulicny is a member of numerous professional organizations, served on the national board of the Head Injury Foundation and served as the President of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine.



THUR, 26 OCT // 8:15 AM – 9:30 AM

Integrative Medicine and Progress in Rehabilitation: People Really Matter

Josephine P. Briggs, MD, Director, National Institute of Health

It is widely recognized that our health care system does too much of some things, and too little of others. Learning what works and for whom – finding the true balance between benefit and harm - is the charge to the biomedical research enterprise. Negative findings are as important a product of evidence-based medicine as the positives. Two examples will be explored: Care of the elderly and back pain management.

Josephine Briggs

Dr. Josephine Briggs, an accomplished researcher and physician, is Director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In addition to leading NCCIH, she has served as the Interim Director of the NIH Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program as well as Acting Director of the Division of Clinical Innovation at the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Her research interests include the renin-angiotensin system, circadian regulation of blood pressure, and policy and ethical issues around clinical research. Dr. Briggs has published more than 175 research articles, book chapters, and other scholarly publications. She is an elected member of the Association of American Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Briggs has received many awards including the Department of Health and Human Services 2014 Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service and the American Society of Nephrology John P. Peters Award for substantial research contributions to the discipline of nephrology. She has also received numerous NIH Director’s Awards for work on key trans-NIH activities such as developing the Trans-NIH Type I Diabetes Strategic Plan, leading the Trans-NIH Zebrafish Committee, launching and leading the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory, chairing the leadership team on careers of NIH staff clinicians, serving on the Office of Human Subjects Research Protections Team, and implementing the NIH Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program.


FRI 27 OCT // 8:15 AM – 9:30 AM


Maurizio Corbetta, MD, Professor and Chair of Neurology, University of Padua; Founding Director, Padua Neuroscience Center

A long-held view is that stroke causes many distinct neurological syndromes due to damage of specialized cortical and subcortical centers. However, in recent studies on a large cohort of first time stroke subjects studied longitudinally at 2 weeks, 3 and 12 months, we showed that a few clusters of behavioral deficits spanning multiple functions explained neurological impairment. These clusters are stable across recovery indicating that they represent a stable solution to describe impairment. It has been also proposed that focal lesions cause remote physiological abnormalities, but the behavioral relevance of these changes vis-a-vis structural damage is unknown. In separate studies we measured resting functional connectivity fMRI (FC), lesion topography, and behavior in multiple domains (attention, visual memory, verbal memory, language, motor, and visual), and used machine-learning models to predict neurological impairment in individual subjects. We found that visual memory and verbal memory were better predicted by FC, whereas visual and motor impairments were better predicted by lesion topography. Attention and language deficits were well predicted by both. These results link key organizational features of brain networks to brain-behavior relationships in stroke.

Dr. Maurizio Corbetta is Professor and Chair of Neurology at the University of Padua; Founding Director of the Padua Neuroscience Center; Professor of Neurology, Radiology, Neuroscience, and Bioengineering at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Corbetta has pioneered experiments on the neural mechanisms of human attention with Positron Emission Tomography (PET).  He has discovered two brain networks dedicated to attention control, the dorsal and ventral attention networks, and developed, in collaboration with Dr. Gordon Shulman, a brain model of attention that has been cited in the literature more than 5,000 times.  His clinical work has focused on the physiological correlates of focal injury.  He has developed a pathogenetic model of the syndrome of hemispatial neglect.  He is currently developing novel methods for studying the functional organization of the brain using functional connectivity MRI, magneto-encephalography (MEG), and electro-corticography (EcoG).  He is working on the effects of focal injuries on the network organization of brain systems with an eye to neuromodulation.


SAT 28 OCT // 2:30 PM – 3:15 PM

2017 John Stanley Coulter Award Lecture: Pathway from Acute Rehabilitation to Lifelong Health and Wellness for People with Disabilities

James H. Rimmer, PhD, Lakeshore Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Promotion and Rehabilitation Sciences; Director of Research, University of Alabama at Birmingham

A persistent pattern of secondary health conditions experienced by people with spinal cord injury and other disabilities has received growing attention from rehabilitation researchers. With shortened lengths of stay and multiple secondary health conditions occurring at a very high frequency post-disability, the urgency to create a self-management health promotion hub for people with spinal cord injury (SCI) and other disabilities has taken on greater importance.  Dr. Rimmer will discuss how Lakeshore Foundation empowers rehabilitation professionals to provide their patients with context-driven health and wellness recommendations needed to self-manage and sustain health throughout their lifetimes. The Foundation is a health/fitness facility and residential campus committed to serving people with SCI and other physical disabilities through innovative programs, policy, advocacy and research.

James H Rimmer

James H Rimmer

James H. Rimmer, PhD, is a Professor in the School of Health Professions, the first Lakeshore Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Promotion and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and Director of Research at Lakeshore Foundation. He is also a senior scientist in the Center for Exercise Medicine and the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at UAB and has an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the School of Medicine. His research interests explore the use of new and emergent technologies in developing biobehavioral and environmental strategies to promote beneficial physical activity and healthful weight management in people with disabilities. He directs two federally funded centers, the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (funded by CDC since 1999), and the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Interactive Exercise Technologies and Exercise Physiology for People with Disabilities (funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research since 2002). He is the principal investigator and director of a new PCORI grant comparing a clinic vs. home-based telerehabilitation program for adults with multiple sclerosis. He has had 24 years of continuous federal funding averaging approximately $2M/yr.


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*Although significant changes are not anticipated, all schedules, sessions, and presenters posted on this website are subject to change.