Keith Scott and I, 3rd year students, just returned from this year's AAOMPT conference in San Antonio. We were there to do a poster presentation which entailed judges evaluating our study and 56 others. Talk about feeling like you're in the midst of a practical!
Anyway, I wanted to talk about how invaluable of an experience the conference was. But in order for you to fully realize how much this conference affected me, allow me to share a little about my background. I have been a chiropractor since 2002 and had decided in 2007 to go back to school for PT for many reasons. I have always been drawn to orthopedics, obviously, but was never really drawn to evidence-based practice; until spine class in the summer of 2009. Joe and Cheryl's class opened my eyes to EBP in a way that has clinically changed the way I will practice from now on. Basing my clinical decision making on the evidence rather than on what a guru says has truly given me confidence with patients that I never really had before. I have become a certified evidence junkie. I subscribe to 2 "push" services and can't get enough. One of the consistent patterns that I am seeing in the literature is that more and more studies are pointing to the efficacy of combining manipulation and exercise. I digress. Back to the conference.
AAOMPT Conference Friday's keynote address speakers: Stanley Herring, MD; Chad Cook PT, PhD, MBA, OCS, FAAOMPT; Josh Cleland, PT, PhD.
Herring systematically laid out arguments for positioning PT as a first line of defense for musculoskeletal conditions and how we as a nation have spent disgusting amounts of money at improving spine care with little to no improvement in outcomes (cost has mounted as quality has declined).
Cook has authored many research articles, written or contributed to multiple texts, and is editor of the Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapeutics (JMMT). His keynote address was on the best test for diagnosis of the spine and why its important. In his address he discusses the importance of differential diagnosis, diagnostic accuracy, and the best tests for diagnosis. He discussed the importance of the reference standard that is used to compared the proposed test and how it can make or break the validity of the test. Surprisingly, there are relatively few tests that have withstood the rigors of statistical analysis.
Cleland's talk was entitled "Manual Therapy: if it works, why isn't everyone doing it?" He discussed the evidence for manual therapy and the barriers that PT's need to overcome to incorporate it into their practice.
That was just Friday's addresses. There were breakout sessions all day Saturday as well, and into Sunday morning. All in all the talks were very dynamic and informative. They also had the student special interest group (sSIG) there to get the students more involved. There were exhibitors on hand with everything from rehab products to fellowship programs to journals....free pens galore.
It was such an incredible experience being around some of the greats in the research world. After seeing some of the same names over and over in the literature and then to finally see them in person it was definitely a room full of rock stars.
If you've made it this far I hope to end with one final note of encouragement: get involved. Joe and Cheryl have brought to Bradley an incredible enthusiasm for evidence-based practice. In the (near) future there will be many opportunities to improve your hands-on skills. Keep an eye out for the manual therapy club (coming up yet in Oct), Explain Pain seminar (spring 2011), and the AAOMPT student special interest group (sSIG) on campus (in progress).
As an additional plug for the manual therapy club, if you know that you're leaning toward orthopedics, specifically manual therapy PT, I'd remind you that it's a skill that must be practiced hundreds of times to develop the motor pattern. In chiropractic school we had about a year and a half of manipulation training and admittedly I wasn't completely comfortable for at least a year in practice. I can't stress enough the importance of getting your hands on willing participants. Get your fears out of the way now so you become proficient at it and can confidently treat patients using the best evidence. Hope to see you at the club meeting...