Following a pathway through the riches. Paul Schultz / photo on flickr
Following a pathway through the riches. Paul Schultz / photo on flickr

Exploring the riches of a WCPT Congress: your pathway through the programme

The newly-published WCPT Congress programme has been designed to cater for a wide range of physical therapists’ interests, from paediatrics to pain, from professional issues to physical activity. 

WCPT is encouraging physical therapists to look through the provisional programme to see how they can follow a personal pathway, pursuing their own interests through a range of session formats, activities and networking opportunities. 

“We’ve put together the programme to be as delegate-friendly as possible,” said Aimee Stewart, Chair of the International Scientific Committee (ISC) which designed the congress content. “If your interest is, say neurology, we’ve programmed sessions of interest each day to minimise clashes so that you can follow your interest easily.”

Ann VanSant, Professor Emeritus of Physical Therapy at Temple University USA and Editor-in-Chief of Pediatric Physical Therapy, is also a member of the ISC. She is enthusiastic about the potential for physical therapists with special interests, and specific career priorities, to be able to experience a wide range of learning and networking opportunities.

“Thinking of one of my own special interests, for example, I look at the programme and can see how a physical therapist interested in paediatrics and developing a research career might be able to fulfil their needs at the congress.”

Some highlights from the programme immediately stand out, she points out. There are several main sessions directly on paediatrics. One is a focused symposium looking at ways to augment mobility in children using training, resources and technologies led by Ginny Paleg, a paediatric physical therapist and conductive education specialist from Maryland in the United States: all four expert speakers will be exploring easily attainable clinical applications. 

Another focused symposium, convened by Hilda Mulligan from Otago University in New Zealand, looks at the emerging use of interactive technology in rehabilitation for young people. There’s another focused symposium about activity in children and adults with childhood onset disability, led by Janke dr Groot from the Utrecht  University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands .

And to appeal to the research interest there is a focused symposium on clinical trials led by Rob Herbert, from the Neuroscience Research Australia.

Then there’s another type of main congress session – the discussion panel. For a physical therapist who wants to develop a research career, there are two that might stand out: one discussing the range of paths to a research career and some of the “snakes and ladders” along the way, which Ann is looking forward to chairing, and another looking at the future of research needed for physical therapy practice. 

“These kinds of main sessions can provide a framework in the programme for those with particular interests,” says Ann VanSant. “But around those, there are also plenty of programmed opportunities throughout the three days of congress to allow people to network. For example, there’s a networking session for early career researchers on Saturday, another on paediatrics, organised by the International Organisation of Physical Therapists in Paediatrics (IOPTP) on Sunday, and another on Monday where physical therapists can meet top researchers and ask them questions.”

There is also an IOPTP subgroup seminar on Monday – a chance for like-minded people to gather and learn more about the WCPT recognised subgroup and a hot topic in the field. 

There are also pre- and post-congress courses and clinical visits, and a range of platform sessions and posters (yet to be announced).

“Of course, every congress delegate will have different interests and ambitions to follow. But wherever you come from, whatever your seniority, and whether you are interested in musculoskeletal, cardiorespiratory, exercise prescription, stroke, neurology, pain or dozens of other areas, you will be able to chart a rich pathway through the conference programme.”

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