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About the speakers

Prof. Fin Biering-Sørensen DrMedSci

Head of the Department for Spinal Cord Injuries, Glostrup Hospital, Denmark and Professor in Spinal Cord Injuries at the University of Copenhagen. He is past President of the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS). Professor Biering-Sørensen has been a major figure in SCI clinical research for many years and, recently, has been an active contributor to and member of the Editorial Board of the ISCoS learning platform elearnsci.org.


Dr. Martin Brinkhof

Dr. Brinkhof heads the Study Center of the Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Cohort Study (SwiSCI) at Swiss Paraplegic Research (Nottwill, Switzerland). He holds a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. Before accepting his current position he was employed as senior researcher at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM; Faculty of Medicine) of the University of Bern. At ISPM he received extended vocational training in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. The main focus of his collaborative research at ISPM was outcome evaluation of antiretroviral treatment programs in context of large multicenter cohort studies (Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS); The Antiretroviral Therapy in Lower Income Countries (ART-LINC) Collaboration; and the International Epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate AIDS (IeDEA).

The overall goal of the SwiSCI study is to gain a better understanding of how to support functioning, health maintenance, and quality-of-life of persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) along the continuum of care, in the community, and along their life span. Specific study aims include 1) the evaluation of functioning and aging with SCI; 2) the establishment of a platform for the evaluation of rehabilitation or policy interventions; 3) the creation of a reliable epidemiologic database for SCI that may inform Swiss social and health policy. In his presentation Martin Brinkhof will give an overview of the study design of SwiSCI; its use of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) as reference in data collection; a preliminary account of the changing epidemiology of SCI in Switzerland; and present first results of the recent community survey.

Prof. Dr. Martin E. Schwab

Full professor of brain research and co-director of the Brain Research Institute at the University of Zurich (since 1985) and full professor of Neurosciences at the ETH Zurich (since 1997). He is the founder of the Neuroscience Center Zurich (ZNZ) and the managing director of the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) “Neural Plasticity and Repair”.


Prof.Dr. Sara Rubinelli

Assistant Professor of Health Communication at the Department of Health Sciences and Health Policy of the University of Lucerne (CH), and Scientific Coordinator of the Human Functioning Unit at Swiss Paraplegic Research (CH). She obtained her higher educational degrees at the Catholic University of Milan, Italy, (Laurea in Classics and Philosophy) and at the University of Leeds, UK, (PhD in communication sciences). Prior to joining the teams at Lucerne and Nottwil she served as Scientific Coordination of the Institute of Communication and Health at the University of Lugano (CH). She is currently the Swiss National Representative of the European Association for Communication in Healthcare (EACH), and co-leader of the task force in Medical Humanities of the European School of Oncology. Her most recent research line examines interpersonal health communication in the forms of face-to-face interaction and mediated by new-technologies (especially internet). Specific topics of research include decision making in health professional-patients/consumers communication, eHealth, health literacy, self-management and empowerment, communication skills, theories and models of health, functioning, disability and well-being. Sara is currently leading a major project focused on the design, implementation and evaluation of PARAFORUM, a web-enabled platform for information, communication and sharing in the field of spinal cord injury.


Kevin Schultes

Kevin has been a paraplegic since a working accident in 1995. He works as an export consultant for the medical device industry and is actively involved in several German Spinal Injury Associations and Foundations. He contributed towards the concept of the Manfred-Sauer-Foundation and has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2006.

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