CSM - A Newcomer's Perspective | Mar 1, 2013

After years of urging from my mentor, Bev Johnson, I made the decision to attend the Combined Sections Meeting (CSM). It was held at the San Diego Convention Center from Jan. 21-24th. Attendance was 9,400 PTs and PTAs from around country, plus many students, presenters, guests, and exhibitors.

The location was ideal with record temperatures in the 70s and no rain until after the conference had ended. The Convention Center is situated on the Embarcadero, a wonderful walkway along the San Diego harbor with shops and restaurants. To the other direction and within walking distance is the historic Gas Lamp District, where a group of 15 of us North Dakotans and other friends (1 from Australia) met for dinner at a Mexican restaurant.

I registered on Monday, the pre-conference day, and the APTA had everything well organized with many helpful staff and volunteers available for questions or directions. Conference days were Tuesday through Thursday with programming scheduled in 2 hour blocks from 8-10AM, 11AM-1PM, and 3-5PM. Each of the 18 APTA sections had courses to choose from during those 3 session times and it was fun to plan which ones to go to. I enjoyed hearing what sessions other people were going to and at times, I wished I could be in 2 places on once!

I chose sessions from the Geriatrics and Neurology sections. I am a member of the Geriatrics section and as a part of that, joined the Special Interest Group (SIG) Balance and Falls. The SIG session on the first day was wonderful, with four presenters discussing recent research on balance and falls over the continuum of care from acute to rehab to outpatient to community. I was able to hear Mindy Renfro, PT, PhD, speak. She is well published in the geriatrics field and often posts comments on the Geriatric Section list serve. Her doctoral work is on the FRAST (Fall Risk and Assessment Screening Tool), which she presented on and compared it to the new STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Death, and Injuries) which is currently coming out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agency. Both tools are designed to be used as a screening tool for people over 65 years, with information from the tool provided to a primary provider, with referral to a PT if indicated. Another session that stands out to me is hearing the "guru" of PT and exercise, Marilyn Moffat, speak on "Are You Pushing Your Patients/Clients Hard Enough?"

Not to be outdone, our chapter of the APTA was well represented at CSM with Justin Berry giving 2 presentations, and Mary Dockter presenting on "Managing the At Risk Student: When Sailing Isn't Smooth." Tom Mohr presented with others on "The Case for Preventing Fraud and Abuse in Physical therapy, Part I and II." Kathy Day was at CSM as our NDPTA president and attended many additional meetings. Cindy Flom-Meland attended Chief Delegate meetings in preparation for the upcoming House of Delegates in Salt Lake City, Utah, in June.

Technology was a big part of CSM and there was a part of Exhibit Hall designated as the "Technopalooza." I was amazed at the presentations I attended involving new research and technology. There was video at one presentation featuring a fully powered prosthesis currently under development (Vanderbilt University) for above knee amputees, and also a below elbow prosthesis allowing 8 separate hand positions! Many smart phone applications were also discussed in terms of functional outcomes and PT resources.

During the break times, attendees were free to network or walk through Exhibit Hall. You could tell it was a PT/PTA conference as there were many physically fit individuals walking and running whenever they could take a break! It's great that we "practice what we preach."

The CSM was very valuable to me in regard to my clinical practice as well as to my professional growth as a PT. It was a chance to see one of my UND-PT classmates, Diane Huss, from VA, and to meet other PTs and PTAs from around the country. The three days of programming and exhibits showcased the APTA, our career, the best and brightest of our profession, and the newest in research and design.
Don't wait over 30 years to go to Annual Conference or CSM - GO! You won't be disappointed.