Keynote Session: Traumatic Brain Injury & COVID-19: How Do they Compare?


Description: This session will provide a comparison between traumatic brain injury and COVID-19, including discussing the similarities and differences in these conditions. The presentation will include information about the psychological risks of both conditions and a examination of specific case studies.

Dr. Horn serves as a National Director of Analytics and Clinical Outcomes for NeuroRestorative and is Co-Chair of the NeuroRestorative Research Institute. Prior to outcomes analysis, he was a Director of Programs and Clinical services at the local and state levels. He has been a licensed Neuropsychologist since 1996, providing neuropsychological assessment and rehabilitation intervention in neurotrauma, neurologic ICU and critical care behavioral management, hospital neuroscience programming, inpatient and outpatient neurorehabilitation, and post-hospital (post-acute) neurorehabilitation for neurologically injured.  Dr. Horn completed his PhD at Saint Louis University in Clinical Psychology. He completed a specialized Internship, and 2-year Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Neuropsychology at Duke University School of Medicine and Medical Center. He currently serves on the clinical faculty at the Florida State University, College of Medicine providing training in rehabilitation, outcomes and neuropsychology for 4th year medical students. He provides specialized continued education lectures nationwide. He has also presented lectures, symposia and original research at the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Annual conferences related to neurorehabilitation outcomes. Current research interests includes national rehabilitation outcomes, traumatic brain injury outcomes, neurobehavioral syndromes, and hydrocephalus.

Better Sleep After Brain Injury: Connecting the Dots between that One-Pager and You

Description: Too often providers are giving out generic one-page handouts on "10 Tips for Better Sleep", expecting that to improve their clients' sleep quality and quantity, without assessment of that individual's specific sleep patterns and needs. This session will dive into common disordered sleep patterns after brain injury, easy at-home assessment and self-assessment tools for determining one's own sleep patterns, identify which of those "10 Tips" are priorities for specific sleep problems, and practical ways to start implementing those "Tips" into one's day to day life.


  • Participants will be able to identify common disordered sleeping patterns after brain injury
  • Participants will identify gaps in current behavioral sleep education practices
  • Participants will identify strategies for assessment or self-assessment of sleep patterns
  • Participants will be able to identify interventions of priority based for specific disordered sleeping patterns


Rylie Power is a doctor of occupational therapy and long-time member of the BIAV. She graduated from VCU in 2019 and now works as a Polytrauma Clinical Specialist and Certified Brain Injury Specialist at the Central Virginia VA Medical Center in the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center. She also works at Tree of Life Services, a residential rehabilitation program for adults with acquired brain injuries, and has a private practice, ADAPT, providing in-home occupational therapy, assistive technology, and home modification consulting services. She completed her doctoral capstone on program development for the assessment and treatment of disordered sleep after brain injury in 2019 and continues to provide consulting services for rehabilitation professionals assessing and treating disordered sleep.

Identification and Management of Multiple System Impairments after Concussion Injuries

Description: The purpose of this session will be to describe and identify the multiple systems that are impacted after a concussion injury. Often people only think about the injury to the brain that is causing the reported symptoms, however that is often not the case. With these injuries symptom presentation may be related to injury to the cervical spine secondary to whiplash, trauma to the vestibular system that causes impairments with the oculomotor system and very often impairments related to the autonomic nervous system. There are no symptoms that are unique to concussion and based on the generic symptom profile it can often be difficult to fully understand what is driving the patient's symptom report. Having a strong understanding of the role of the multiple systems that can play a role in a patient presentation will help better differentiate impairments so intervention can be targeted resulting in more successful outcomes. This will also result in better education of the patient so that they can learn to manager their symptoms and play an active role in their recovery.


  • To be able to identify multiple systems that can be impacted after a concussion injury
  • To identify strategies related to management of each of the individual systems
  • To understand the role that cervical spine, vestibular/oculomotor systems and the autonomic nervous system play in concussion recovery
  • To understand how the above systems will impact return to play, learn and work
  • To identify the different resources and members of a transdisciplinary team to help manage all aspects of a concussion injury.

Cristin Beazley graduated in 2006 with her Doctor of Physical Therapy from the VCU Physical Therapy Program in Richmond, VA.  She has worked for the last 16 years with emphasis on Pediatrics and Neurologic Physical Therapy with a specific focus on concussion management over the last 11 years.  She serves as the Manager of Clinical Sciences as well as the Clinical Lead for the Total Concussion Care program at Sheltering Arms Institute. Cristin is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist and is also an instructor for Summit Education, teaching other therapists about concussion management.

She has been involved in original research looking at the role of early PT intervention in concussion management that has been a poster presentation at APTA CSM 2016 annual conference as well as the Academy of Neurology Sports Concussion Conference in 2017.  She was also the author on a presentation on the role of an Interdisciplinary Clinical Practice Guideline in concussion management at ACRM annual conference in 2014 and the updated version presented again in 2019.  She has also been a speaker at the Carle Brain Injury conference and the VPTA annual conference on different topics related to concussion management.    She has sat on advisory boards that resulted in new legislation that address return to learn after concussion for the Commonwealth of VA and another statewide board that looked to develop an initiative to improve concussion management in the schools from return to learn to return to play.  She also recently wrote the Chapter on Return to Activity after concussion for the Brain Injury Association of America’s Concussion Certification course that is coming soon.

Why Are There Butterflies In My Stomach? A Gut Brain Connection Discussion

Description: An open discussion on how the gut-brain connection works in lament's terms, what foods to eat to improve symptoms and when to seek medical help.


  • To understand how the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system are connected
  • To understand what foods can be eaten to help with cognitive and behavioral symptoms
  • To understand how probiotics and prebiotics can help cognitive and behavioral symptoms
  • To understand when to seek medical assistance with gut-brain symptoms

Monika Smith, FNP-C, CRRN, Monika Smith attended Virginia Commonwealth University earning her BS in Nursing in 2002. After gaining extensive experience with multiple age groups in a variety of clinical settings (oncology, private duty, children’s dual enrollment program and acute care physical rehabilitation where she became a CRRN), she attended South University receiving her Masters of Science in Nursing in2019. As a certified Family Nurse Practitioner, she has worked in long-term care, geriatrics, skilled rehabilitation and hospice, but now returns to acute rehabilitation with the CNS team. Over her career, Monika has received several awards including the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award and was featured in Our Health Magazine as one of “Richmond’s Top 14 Nurses” for her leadership skills. She loves developing strong relationships through serving others and helping people achieve a better state of health. When she is not working, Monika enjoys volunteering, crocheting and reading. She lives on her family farm with her husband, two children and dog.

The Power of Connection for Wellbeing and Health

Description: Our brains are hardwired for interpersonal connection, and research has revealed that there are many benefits for health and wellbeing associated with connection.  However, individuals and family members often describe having difficulty maintaining social connection post injury.  During this session, we will discuss the neurobiology of connection, consequences of loneliness, powerful benefits of connection, and strategies to foster connection and overcome loneliness.

During this presentation, attendees will learn:

  • Reasons we are hardwired for social connection
  • Key facts about the neurobiology of connection and isolation
  • Common feelings and consequences associated with loneliness and disconnection
  • Benefits of interpersonal connection
  • Strategies to build connection and overcome loneliness



Dr. Taylor is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who has been practicing in Richmond for over 17 years.  She has an active clinical practice and enjoys working with individuals who are coping with life transitions and health concerns and who are learning strategies to better manage anxiety, stress, and emotional distress.  Dr. Taylor also enjoys speaking and writing.  She has written numerous publications and has given many presentations at national and international meetings and conferences.

Changing Connections

Description: Kelly will share her family's introduction to the brain injury world, and her unique perspective on the importance of effective communication in brain injury care.  She will also explore how speaking up for her family’s care led her to speak out on a national scale, advocating for the care she feels her family and other individuals with brain injury deserve.

The presentation will include outcomes of communication with medical providers, school administrations, and other professionals involved in brain injury recovery, along with tips to make conversations more beneficial for everyone involved.  She will also share advocacy strategies to attain medical, educational, therapeutic, and job support needed to maximize recovery as well as quality of life.


  • Identify how brain injury alters connections to others
  • Develop ways for new connections, relationships, and growth
  • Find ways to broaden relationships on a global scale

Kelly Lang, co-author of The Miracle Child: Traumatic Brain Injury and Me is a brain injury survivor and caregiver to her daughter who sustained a TBI in 2001. Her advocacy began the day they arrived in the hospital and continues today. Kelly is a member of the Brain Injury Association of America’s Advisory Council, serves on the Virginia Brain Injury Advisory Council, is co-leader of The TBI Advisory and Leadership Group, and former faculty member of the National Center for Advancing Person-Centered Practices and Systems (NCAPPS) Brain Injury Learning Collaborative. Kelly has presented at several conferences and webinars including the Administration for Community Living Stakeholder Day. Kelly and her husband created a website educating others about brain injury.

Understanding the Human Toll of Military TBI in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: One Marine’s Story

Description: This session will examine the human toll of blast traumatic brain injury in the war on terror. We will explore a Marine's experience from boot camp, combat deployment, and the following discharge from the Marine Corps. The lecture will examine the relationship between traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic brain injury, and chronic pain.


  • Discuss the epidemiology of blast traumatic brain injury
  • Define blast traumatic brain injury
  • Discuss improvised explosive devices
  • Review blast traumatic injury patterns and factors that determine the severity of blast injury
  • Compare blast and non-blast traumatic brain injury symptoms
  • Discuss factors in recovery from mild blast traumatic brain injury and “miserable minority” with persistent symptoms
  • Provide a humanistic review of living with the complications of blast traumatic brain injury.

Dr. Weppner is originally from Virginia. He went to college at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where he studied Biology. He earned his medical degree from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. Following his internship at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Dr. Weppner served as a General Medical Officer in the Navy, completing two combat tours in Afghanistan. His military decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V” for valor, Navy Achievement Medal with Combat “V” for valor, and Combat Action Ribbon. Dr. Weppner completed his residency training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Virginia and Brain Injury Medicine Fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. He is particularly interested in caring for patients with traumatic brain injuries, concussions, anoxic brain injuries, stroke, and spasticity. Dr. Weppner’s clinical research interests include blast-related TBI, disordered sleep in TBI, and the impact of depression, age, and gender on functional recovery after brain injury. Dr. Weppner serves as the Medical Director for the Carilion Clinic Brain Injury Center.