SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Brain Injury Association of New York State (BIANYS) held its annual conference. The conference brought together professionals, caregivers, service providers, and brain injury survivors for two days of interactive workshops and educational sessions that cover industry trends and information to support and serve New York’s brain injury community.

“Each year at BIANYS, we are learning more about how to support the brain injury community and advancements in prevention of brain injuries, treatment, and returning to life for those who have suffered a brain injury themselves,” said Eileen Reardon, the executive director at BIANYS. “We are so excited to be back in person for this conference and thankful for our presenters, sponsors, and exhibitors that will make the event amazing.”

Annemarie Todd said she was lucky to be here, to walk, talk, and meet new friends at the conference. She said she’s is happy to be an advocate in Albany “for those who don’t have a voice.”

Todd was diagnosed with a cumulative traumatic brain injury after four car crashes from ages 19 and 29. “Life was living on the edge and making mistakes over and over again until I had a total breakdown,” she said.

Todd said she went undiagnosed for about five years after the last crash. She deals with memory loss, plus other long- and short-term symptoms. “Pacing, fatigue, decision making, word processing—the book ends of the day are a mess trying to get my words out properly,” she said.

“We need to let our survivors know that there are support services out there to help them. Sometimes it’s a very lonely journey, people don’t disclose that they have a brain injury. Brain injuries can be an invisible disability,” said Reardon.

BIANYS is a statewide non-profit membership organization that advocates on behalf of people with brain injuries and their families. Established in 1982, BIANYS promotes prevention as well as provides education and community support services that lead to improved outcomes for children and adults with brain injuries. At the annual meeting, they elect officers and introduce the incoming members of the 2022-2023 Board of Directors.

The annual conference also recognizes champions in the field, including Dr. Heidi Fusco, physiatrist, assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at NYU Langone Health, and the Rusk Institute of Rehab and Rehabilitation medical director at Queens Nassau Rehab Center. She won this year’s Marie Ivancich Memorial Award for her support for BIANYS and her personal commitment and professional involvement that has strengthened the association’s mission and goals.