Physical therapists in the main auditorium of the RAI conference centre in Amsterdam.
Physical therapists in the main auditorium of the RAI conference centre in Amsterdam.

Congress 2011: the ripples of knowledge begin to spread

A total of 5,274 physical therapists from over a hundred countries came to Amsterdam for World Physical Therapy 2011, the WCPT Congress, last month. Over three days they had a choice of more than 140 sessions and the experience was, for some, life-changing.

“I have returned to work following this inspiring experience with renewed enthusiasm,” said Pornratshanee Weerapong, a physical therapist from Thailand. “I have left all documents I collected from the congress in the staff coffee room, where my colleagues can have a look and chat about them, and have presented my experience at WCPT in our faculty meeting.”
Priscillah Ondoga from Uganda said she had never before dreamed of attending a WCPT
Congress. “It’s been amazing to actually meet some of the people I have read about, and whose papers I have read,” she said. “Also, just to meet so many physical therapists from all over the world, to be able to exchange contacts and network. It’s valuable not just for me. The information and contacts I collect will benefit every physical therapist in my country. It will help us develop our entry level programme.”
Edward Gorgon from the Philippines said: “I value most the rich discussion on research. We are still struggling to develop our research knowledge and skills in the Philippines, so I will take this home and hope to inspire people.”
These three physical therapists all received bursaries from the Royal Dutch Society for Physical Therapy (KNGF), providing them with funding that allowed them to attend the congress. In addition, financial assistance from the European and North America Caribbean Regions, the Australian Physiotherapy Association, the American Physical Therapy Association and WCPT assisted member organisations from low resource countries to be represented at the WCPT General Meeting and Congress. 
Preliminary registration figures indicate that the largest number of delegates attending the congress came from, not surprisingly, the host country Netherlands (1,154). The next largest numbers of delegates came from the United Kingdom (370), the United States (355), Japan (285), Germany (277), Brazil (259), Canada (246), Switzerland (213), Australia (211) and Denmark (180).
At the closing ceremony, WCPT President Marilyn Moffat noted that it had been one of the largest and most successful congresses in WCPT’s 60 year history.