The inaugural meeting of the European Spinal Psychologists Association was held in 2005 at the historic National Spinal Injuries Centre, founded by Sir Ludwig Guttmann at the end of the Second World War, and attended by over one hundred delegates from across sixteen European countries. Two state of the art lectures were given on ‘adjustment, coping and rehabilitation’ and ‘health related quality of life measures’, and the presentation of scientific papers, and exchange of clinical experience and academic research undertaken by psychologists working in spinal injury settings, ensured that this first meeting was deemed a success. It was therefore decided that conferences would continue on a bi-annual basis.
The second meeting of the European Spinal Psychologists Association was held at the Manfred Sauer Foundation in Lobbach, Germany in 2007. The scientific programme included research investigating the role of appraisals in adjustment to spinal cord injury, paediatric spinal rehabilitation and the validation of a coping measure developed specifically for use in the spinal population.
Feedback from the second conference saw the introduction of a second day to the third ESPA meeting held in Nottwil, Switzerland in 2009. Professor Stucki (Chair of the Department of Health Sciences and Health Policy at the University of Lucerne and Director of Swiss Paraplegic Research in Nottwil) gave the keynote speech on developing a research institution from a comprehensive perspective. ESPA was provided with the unique opportunity to liaise with the ICF research project and the development of the classification of personal factors in SCI rehabilitation. Other talks included the results of a European study on coping and adjustment, depression in the community, life satisfaction and patient experiences.
The fourth ESPA meeting took place at the Guttmann Institute in Badalona on 5th and 6th May 2011, attended by over 50 delegates representing various countries, including 12 European and three International. Dr Jesús Benito MD, Associated Physician in SCI at the Guttmann Institute, gave the keynote address at the start of the proceedings and our invited speaker on day 2 was Dr Marcel Post, Senior Researcher from the Centre of Excellence in Rehabilitation Medicine at the Rehabilitation Centre de Hoogstraat, The Netherlands. The theme of the meeting was Psychological Rehabilitation and Psychosocial Guidelines and over the course of the 2 days a variety of high quality presentations were made.
The fifth ESPA meeting will take place on 23rd and 24th May 2013 at the Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital, Nesoddtangen, Norway. The theme of the meeting is Psychological Treatments, Resilience and Relationships.