Conference History

A Historic Conference

Richmond-Grown & Internationally-Informed

Formerly known as the Williamsburg Conference and now Heading Forward, the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Conference remains the longest continuously running brain injury rehabilitation conference in the world. The inaugural conference, titled Rehabilitation of the Traumatic Brain-Injured Adult, was held at the Richmond Hyatt House in June 1977. The conference was organized by Mitchell Rosenthal, Ph.D. as a joint effort between the Medical College of Virginia’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Division of Neurosurgery, and Department of Continuing Medical Education. The conference has continued to evolve over the years and has featured many international clinicians and researchers, including from Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Puerto Rico.

Click here to view the Conference Brochure 1977.


VCU TBI Model System & Dr. Jeffrey Kreutzer

For over 30 years, the conference has been produced by the Virginia Commonwealth University Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (VCU TBIMS). The conference has served as a critical method for Model System knowledge dissemination to inform brain injury professionals on practical rehabilitation treatment, standards of care, and evolving research. The conference flourished under the guidance of Jeffrey Kreutzer Ph.D., Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry at VCU. A neuropsychologist and family therapist with over three decades of experience, Dr. Kreutzer served as conference planning Chair and Director of the VCU TBIMS from 1987 until retiring in 2020. His tireless dedication to serving individuals with TBI remains an inspiration in the rehabilitation community.

Click here for information on the VCU TBIMS -


Community Collaboration

Community partners have played a critical role in the production of the conference. Past partners include Brain Injury Services of Northern Virginia. In 2018, the VCU TBIMS partnered with the Brain Injury Association of Virginia (BIAV), the only statewide association in Virginia with a mission of advancing education, awareness, support, treatment, and research to improve the quality of life for all people affected by brain injury.


Evolving Focus

Since 2007, with the increase of survivors of brain injury returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the conference program has included prominent speakers from the military community. Speakers have included experienced physicians, neuropsychologists, and others from the McGuire VA Polytrauma Center located in Richmond, Virginia, and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.