Annual conference series now in full swing

ABI 101 panel

Conference attendees ask questions of experts Celeste Racicot, Chrissy Riley and Nancy Porcella at the April 28 Brain Injury 101 conference session. The panel was moderated by Dr. Erik Lande.

The Brain Injury Center of Ventura County kicking off its second quarter of its 2016 Conference Series “Surviving-Striving-Thriving with Acquired Brain Injury.

Program coordinator Chrissy Riley said she is the process of scheduling the remaining sessions for the year and is excited about the creative and informative sessions coming up.

“We have a couple of free sessions later in the year for survivors and their families that will help develop social skills and self-expression,” Riley said.

“We have a game night, where survivors, caregivers and family members will be playing games that will help develop word skills and creative thinking.  We also are working with local artists and professionals to provide a ‘Creative Expressions’ workshop that is designed for survivors and their families to experiment with a variety of methods of expression, including painting, drawing and writing,” she said.

Upcoming scheduled sessions:

Mood and Emotions – Thursday, June 23, 5-7 pm, Camarillo Health Care District, 3687 E. Las Posas Road, Building H, Camarillo. The presentation will focus on Mood and Emotions and how they change after brain injury, including personality factors and changes, managing emotions, strategies in coping with mood swings, sadness, joy, depression, isolation, frustration, inhibitions and more. The session will offer a PowerPoint presentation, and attendees will be able to ask questions.

This presentation will be taught by Patricia Gross, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, a board certified clinical neuropsychologist with more than 30 years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders.  She obtained her BA in Psychology Magna cum laude at UC Irvine, her Masters’ and Doctoral degrees at the University of Southern California, and a postdoctoral fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute (now the Semel Institute at the David Geffen School of Medicine.)  She initially worked at the Wadsworth VAMC and then the Northridge VAMC, where she was Chief of the Neuropsychology Assessment Laboratory and Associate Chief of the Neuropsychiatry Clinic. Dr. Gross directed four traumatic brain injury (TBI) programs and treated patients with TBI and mild TBI at six facilities in the Carolinas Healthcare System in Charlotte for a total of 19 years. She then assisted active duty Armed Forces personnel who had mild TBI and PTSD at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

From 2009 to 2014, she served as the Polytrauma Neuropsychologist at the W.G. Hefner VA Medical Center in Salisbury, NC, which served 91,000 Veterans.  She assessed Veterans from the Iraqi/Afghanistan conflicts with mild TBI and PTSD, and saw a wide variety of neuropsychological referrals from the entire hospital.  Dr. Gross co-authored research on the first Alzheimer’s medication, THA (Cognex), performed FDA trials for the fourth medication, galantamine (Razadyne), and has published in numerous professional journals. In 2014, she joined Karen Schiltz and Associates in private practice in Calabasas, CA.  Dr. Gross holds an appointment as Assistant Clinical Professor (Voluntary) at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Game Night – FREE – Wednesday, June 29, 4-5:30 p.m., Bible Fellowship Church, 6950 Ralston St., Building 300, Ventura. Join us for a night of fun and games with fellow survivors and caregivers that will help improve word skills and creative thinking.

ABCs of Behavioral Change – Tuesday. July 19, 7-8:30 p.m., St John’s Regional Medical Center, 1600 Rose Ave, Oxnard, Conference Rooms 2 and 4. Improving behavior and mood is the goal of better behavioral management. The ABCs will review the basics to accomplish improved behavioral management for yourself and others. After the presentation, individuals will be able to describe the mindfulness as it applies to behavioral self-observation, list some personal goals for behavioral change and identify at least three reinforcers.

Dr. Tomaszewski is a Board Certified Clinical Neuropsychologist who specializes in assessment and rehabilitation of individuals with brain injury or brain impairments. He provides neuropsychological assessment, therapy, and coordination of neurobehavioral rehabilitation within multidisciplinary treatment teams in hospital and community settings. He provides neuropsychological rehabilitation following brain injury, management of neurobehavioral disorders within the context of the natural environment, and long-term care of individuals with brain impairment. In addition, Dr. Tomaszewski’s practice involves forensic neuropsychology, research and teaching, and he is a member of the Brain Injury Center of Ventura County Program Advisory Council.  Dr. Tomaszewski is a Clinical Assistant Professor for the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of California in Los Angeles. He also is an Adjunct Professor for the Psychology Department at California State University, Northridge.

Lifelong Learning After TBI and Rights of Adults with Disabilities in the Workplace – Tuesday, Aug. 16 6:30- 8:30 pm, National University, 1000 Town Center Drive, Room 126, Oxnard. Learn about how acquired traumatic brain injury may affect learning, remediation and compensatory strategies for life-long learning and education and the rights of adults with disabilities in the workplace and community during this presentation by Jarice Butterfield, Ph.D., CBIS, and Melissa Hatch, J.D.

This presentation will include a variety of resources to assist with education, learning and workplace information, including IPad Apps and online programs, software, websites and more.  Dr. Butterfield also includes information on college for TBI Survivors.

Dr. Butterfield graduated from the University of California Santa Barbara and earned her Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Organizations with an emphasis on Special Education. Dr. Butterfield is the Director of the Santa Barbara County Special Education Local Plan Area. Dr. Butterfield is a certified Brain Injury Specialist/Trainer and currently sits as Committee Chairperson for the State SELPA Directors’ Association. She is the parent of a brain injury survivor and a member of the Brain Injury Center’s Professional Advisory Council.

Hatch has extensive experience representing public educational agencies in special education due process hearings, mediations, IEP team meetings, and complaints filed with the California Department of Education and the United States Office for Civil Rights. She also provides in-service trainings/staff development on a variety of issues, including but not limited to, administration of medication at school, IEP basics, assessment basics, developing a defensible IEP, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Hatch has successfully defended public school districts in due process hearings and appeal to Federal Court.  Hatch received her Juris Doctor from the Ventura College of Law in 2006, graduating fourth in her class, and with Honors. Ms. Hatch is a member of the Ventura County Bar Association, the East County (Conejo Valley) Bar Association, and the California Council of School Attorneys.

During the first quarter the center offered four sessions, The ABCs of Special Needs Planning Made Easy, Executive Function: Enhancing Community Re-Entry Following Traumatic Brain Injury, Tackling Traumatic Brain Injury and Brain Injury 101.

“Response to the new format has been positive with a more intimate atmosphere and an increased ability for attendees to ask questions and receive answers,” Riley said.

“We would not be able to provide these informative sessions without the support of the community and our sponsors, Anacapa Surgical Associates, Neuroscience Center of Ventura County, Camarillo Health Care District and Senior Helpers, and Adam Reborn,” said Executive Director Jeanette Villanueva.

For information on additional sessions or to register, please visit or call (805) 482-1312.

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