Neuroscientist and astronaut Roberta Bondar speaks at nursing congress

Neuroscientist, physician and astronaut Roberta Bondar, the first neurologist in space and Canada’s first woman astronaut, will be the keynote speaker at the 10th Quadrennial Congress and International Career Fair of the World Federation of Neuroscience Nurses, Founded on Tradition – Focused on Tomorrow, at York.

Geared to neuroscience nurses, clinicians, physicians, administrators, educators, pharmacologists and occupational therapists working in a variety of areas, including epilepsy, geriatrics, movement disorders, neurology, Parkinson’s disease and traumatic brain injury, the event will take place from Saturday, May 23 to Wednesday, May 27 at York’s Keele campus. It is hosted by York’s School of Nursing in the Faculty of Health and the Office of University  Events & Community Relations.

Right: Roberta Bondar

Globally recognized for her contributions to space medicine, Bondar is moving beyond the laboratory to share what she has discovered about the brain with congress goers Tuesday, May 26. She’ll also discuss how people can adapt to unfamiliar environments. Bondar was first launched from earth aboard NASA’s space shuttle Discovery in January 1992 where, as a payload specialist, she conducted advanced scientific experiments for 14 nations. Back on earth, Bondar continued her work searching for connections between those recovering from new environments and neurological illnesses such as stroke and Parkinson’s disease. In doing so, she led a team of researchers to better understand the mechanisms underlying the body’s ability to recover from exposure to space.

In addition to Bondar, there will be five other keynote addresses. Neuroscience clinical nurse specialist Linda Littlejohns, vice-president of clinical development at Integra NeuroSciences and president of the Integra Foundation, will give two workshops on neuro-assessment. Littlejohns has lectured worldwide on topics related to the management of the neuroscience patient population. She was co-editor of the fourth edition of the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN) Core Curriculum for Neuroscience Nursing, the newly released American Association of Critical Care Nurses-AANN Protocols for Practice: Monitoring Technologies in Critically Ill Neuroscience Patients, and is a contributing neuro-editor for Mosby’s Dictionary of Medical, Nursing and Health Professions.

Aleksandra Bjelajac Mejia (right) will give a workshop on applied pharmacology. Bjelajac Mejia is the education/residency coordinator and clinical pharmacy specialist in neurology at the Hospital for Sick Children. Her primary area of practice is in participating in the care of children with epilepsy.

A health sciences professor at Lund University in Sweden and a registered nurse, Peter Hagell (left) will give a workshop on movement disorders. Hagell teaches graduate and undergraduate nursing and physiotherapy students, and conducts research.

A neuroscience nurse since 1968, Christine Eberhardie (right) will give the historical address at the congress, an illustrated presentation on the history of the World Federation of Neuroscience Nurses (WFNN) and the role of the WFNN in context with world events as well as a look at the inter-professional history of the neuroscience practice. Eberhardie has taught for over 20 years and has spent 25 years in the British Territorial Army as a neuroscience nursing officer. She was the WFNN editor of publications from 1987 to 1993 and vice-president from 1993 to 1997.

In his keynote speech, Paul Van Keeken (left) will discuss the NeuroBlend project which offers a European framework for competence-based blended learning based on an international profile of a neuroscience nurse, a European curriculum and a virtual learning environment. Van Keeken has been in neuroscience nursing since 1980, first as a neuroscience clinical nurse specialist and later as manager of neurology/neurosurgery departments. In 2003, he set up the Nijmegen Cognitive Neuroscience Centre in the Netherlands. The same year, he became president of the European Association for Neuroscience Nurses and in 2005, the project manager for the NeuroBlend project.

Pre-congress workshops begin tomorrow on neuro -assessment, applied pharmacology and movement disorders. Topics of discussion during congress will include neuroinflammation and chronic pain, sexuality post-stroke, head to toe nerves, epilepsy surgery in children, spin & spew: vertigo and the role of the neuro-otology nurse and neurofibromatosis.

The conference is organized by the World Federation of Neuroscience Nurses in collaboration with the Neuroscience Nurses Foundation, the Canadian Association of Neuroscience Nurses and York University.

For more information or to register, visit the 10th Quadrennial Congress of the World Federation of Neuroscience Nurses Web site.