Speakers – Navigating the Trends of Brain Injury 

Thursday October 18

Does brain injury contribute to the risk for criminal behaviour? – Lynn Stewart, Ph.D., C.Psych. Senior Research Manager, Interventions and Women Offenders Research, Research Branch, Correctional Service Canada

Virtual Reality-The virtual world within patient rehabilitation experiences – Alex Theodorou, Founder, Ocutherapy

Cannabis 101 & Brain Injury – Sabrina Ramkellawan –Vice President, TerrAscend

You, Me & A Brain Injury – Melissa & Jason Jirovec 

Performing Music as Part of the Journey of Recovery – Dan Washburn, Professional Musician & Mary Ellen Thompson PhD, Speech-language Pathologist – Brain Injury Association Quinte District

Panel: Exploring the Challenges to Health and Well-being for Women & Girls Living with Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Dr. Angela Colantonio PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.) (researcher): A gendered approach to TBI research
  • Melissa Biscardi BScN, RN -Women & girls with TBI: Implications for the reproductive system
  • Halina (Lin) Haag MSW, RSW (researcher/lived experience): Helping the helpers: Developing a TBI Toolkit for Frontline IPV workers
  • Reema Shafi MA, OTReg. (Ont.) (researcher/service provider): Sex-specific alterations in the brain post-concussion

Surviving the Perfect Storm: – Brain Injury, Mental Health and Addictions – Janelle Breese Biagoni, Cridge Centre Brain Injury Service

Meaningful Activity: Somewhere to Live and Something to Do – Geoff Sing and Bob Embury, Cridge Centre Brain Injury Service


Speaker Bios


Lynn Stewart

Dr. Stewart is a registered psychologist who has worked 30 years in the Correctional Service of Canada, initially as an institutional and community psychologist, then, as a national manager developing and implementing correctional programs. She is currently a senior research manager leading applied research on correctional interventions and women offenders. She has published articles on issues related to evidence based practice including correctional program outcome studies, domestic violence interventions, Indigenous specific correctional interventions, and women specific correctional programs. Most recently she has been involved in research on various aspects of the mental health of offenders and their impact on their correctional outcomes.  Lynn is on the international program accreditation panel for Prisons and Parole in the UK and is a member of the Chief Coroner’s Intimate Partner Death Review Committee in Ontario which investigates all case of domestic homicide in the province.

Alex Theodorou 

Alex is a clinical researcher turned entrepreneur. Alex holds an MSc degree from McMaster University and has worked extensively in this field having presented across North America in the field of trauma, brain injury and recovery which has now lead to the development of Ocutherapy. His goal with Ocutherapy is to motivate and connect people using leading virtual technologies to create smart solutions for each person’s unique needs in rehabilitation.


Sabrina Ramkellawan 

Sabrina Ramkellawan is a researcher, patient advocate, speaker and professor and has 15+ years of clinical trial/research experience.  She is the Vice President of Clinical Affairs at TerrAscend. Sabrina has been working in cannabis research & education for the last 3 years and to date has worked on 6 observational studies and is currently working on 3 clinical trials at different stages of development. She has developed cannabis education, webinars and has done a number of educational talks and speaking engagements in Canada and the US. She has a medical background with nursing (RN) experience in critical care, mental health, pediatrics and in the community. Sabrina is also the Acting President of a non-profit organization called the Clinical Research Association of Canada (CRAC) that conducts events throughout the year to provide a forum for education and discussion on topics relevant to all aspects of clinical research in Canada.


Jason Jirovec

Jason Jirovec is a former Aircraft Maintenance Technician. Since his ATV collision in 2014 resulting in a traumatic brain injury, he has been working on his rehabilitation full-time. At present, Jason is passionate about promoting awareness of brain injury in his community, and does speaking engagements to help people understand his journey and how best to support those living with this ‘invisible’ disability.



Melissa Jirovec

Melissa Jirovec is a Non-Practicing Registered Nurse, Author, and full-time caregiver to her husband Jason and their young daughter. In 2016 she self-published her autobiography titled: ‘Getting Out of the Rut’, and in 2017 she self-published a children’s picture book titled: ‘My Daddy’s Brain’. At present, Melissa is promoting her children’s book to raise awareness of brain injury and advocate for inclusivity, as well as speaking at events with her husband.


Dan Washburn

Dan started playing guitar at the age of seven, and has worked professionally as a singer/song writer,producer, bass player, harmony singer, and band leader, on stages worldwide. Early in his career, he released 5 singles to radio before becoming lead singer for “South Mountain,” signed to Stony Plain Records, distributed world-wide by Warner Brothers. Presently, Dan has released four singles to radio internationally, most recently “Some Nights Are Better Left Forgotten.” He is currently a published songwriter out of Nashville writing with some of the best in the business. His second album is slated for release in the summer of 2018.


Mary-Ellen Thompson

Mary-Ellen is a register speech-language pathologist who is worked collaboratively with multidisciplinary teams and community-based rehabilitation for brain injury survivors for the past 20 years. She has presented nationally and internationally while maintaining an active clinical practice in Belleville, Ontario and conducting applied research. She is past present of the Quinte Brain Injury Association of Quinte district and is currently co-chair of the Ontario Advisory Council of the Ontario Brain Injury Association and a board member of the Ontario Brain Injury Association.


Melissa Biscardi, BScN, RN, MSc (c)

Melissa graduated from Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She is currently completing a Master of Science at the University of Toronto, Acquired Brian Injury Lab where her research focuses on long term reproductive health issues in women who have sustained a concussion or brain injury. Her research focuses on three areas of care: Musculoskeletal issues in individuals aging after traumatic brain injury; rehabilitation of individuals with dementia and/or brain injury, and brain injury and women’s health across the lifespan. She also engages in clinical practice, treating clients in these areas.


Angela Colantonio, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.), FCAHS, FACRM

Dr. Colantonio is the Director of the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto. She is also a Senior Research Scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-UHN. Dr. Colantonio leads a broad, internationally recognized program of research on acquired brain injury (ABI) that includes a focus on women and sex/gender analyses, TBI in vulnerable populations, and work-related TBI & subsequent return to work. She co-leads an international task force on Girls/Women with ABI.  She is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American College of Epidemiology. In 2015, she was awarded the Robert L. Moody Prize for Distinguished Initiatives in Brain Injury Research and Rehabilitation.


Halina (Lin) Haag MSW, RSW

Lin is a PhD student in the Faculty of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University, researching in disability studies and TBI.   Her work focuses on women survivors of intimate partner violence with TBI, exploringmental health, return to work, and social inclusion. As someone with lived experience of TBI, Lin uses her story to add complexity and nuance to her research, teaching, and practice. She has spoken about disability and TBI for both academic and community based organizations, and is a practicing social worker, developing innovative interventions for people living with disabilities through Equine Facilitated Therapy.


Reema Shafi

Reema is a PhD candiate at the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute (RSI), University of Toronto. As a clinican, Reema has extensive experience in community rehabilitation with an emphasis on community integration and return-to-work programs for brain injury survivors. Her research interests lie in understanding the functional organization of large-scale neural networks, investigating the influence of sex on alterations in neural organization post-injury and examining the implications for rehabilitation. Her current research project is exploring the intersection of traumatic brain injury and neurodegeneration in women survivors of intimate partner violence. Her research is supported by CIHR and the Women’s College Hospital.


Janelle Breese Biagioni, RPC

Janelle is an author, speaker, and counselor with expertise and personal experience as a family member in grief, loss, life transitions, and brain injury. She is the author of Head Injuries: The Silent Epidemic and A Change of Mind: One Family’s Journey through Brain Injury and Life Losses: Healing for a Broken Heart. Visit her media and websites at www.thehopegenerator.com and www.janellebb.com. She may be contacted at [email protected] She resides with her family in Victoria, BC.


Geoff Sing

Geoff Sing, Brain Injury Services Manager, has been with the Cridge Centre for the Family for 15 years. He oversees and manages a comprehensive brain injury program that includes: a licensed ten bed residence; eight units in a 20 unit apartment building that facilitates Independent Living with Assistance; approximately 30 community based contracts and employment training for survivors that assists them along the full continuum of employment support. 



Bob Embury

Bob is the CEO of Eclipse Solutions HR and created his first training company Quality Training Associates (QTA) in 1990. Bob is passionate about developing the skills and abilities of leaders at every level. He has with over 350 companies including Nike, Costco, Air Canada, Weyerhaeuser, all levels of government and many not for profit associations. In 2013, Bob rebranded his training company to include recruitment and human resources services. Today, his company is known as Eclipse Human Resources Solutions (Eclipse HR). Eclipse HR provides over 150 training programs, full services recruitment and HR Today, a program to help growing companies deal with the issues of HR in their companies on site.