An Inspiring Conference: AACPDM (OR LEND)

By Kate Stribling, PT, DPT, CDRC Pediatric Physical Therapy Resident, Oregon LEND Trainee

November 30, 2015

In October I was lucky enough to attended the 69th annual meeting of the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (AACPDM) in Austin, Texas. For anyone familiar with AACPDM, and what they do, it goes without saying this was a wonderful conference and a great experience. For anyone less familiar, AACPDM is an organization of health professionals dedicated to a multidisciplinary teamwork approach for children and adults with disabilities. The goal of the AACPDM to provide science-based education for health professionals, promote excellence in research, and encourage exceptional services for the benefit of people with and at risk for childhood-onset disabilities, like cerebral palsy. As a LEND trainee, this meeting offered me the opportunity to network, to learn, and to be inspired by leaders in the field of developmental medicine.I

The AACPDM meeting was different than other professional meetings that I have attended. There were all types of professionals (pediatricians, neurologists, surgeons, rehabilitators, therapists, nurses, special educators, engineers, and basic scientists) as well as some community members with special interests in neurodevelopmental disabilities. Attendees came from all over the globe. This diversity brought with it a variety of special skills, unique experiences and cultural backgrounds which made for a very rich learning adventure. The conference, while heavily attended, did not feel over-crowded or intimidating. This meant I was able to meet and talk to the same individuals over several days and over different sessions to really make some meaningful connections.

The meeting program was set up to offer a variety of learning opportunities. Up-to-date research was presented from seasoned professionals who are experts in their field. There were poster presentations which allowed great face-to-face discussion of the ins and outs of research techniques. I enjoyed hands-on instructional courses on everything from how to perform a hip osteotomy (using saw-bones simulation models, of course) to early detection and intervention for cerebral palsy. Last but not least, the general sessions covered a broad and interesting topic range that had something for everyone. My take away was a gain in knowledge breadth and depth--both confirming and challenging previously held beliefs and presenting altogether new ideas. I think this knowledge has made me a better therapist.

I was inspired by new findings regarding the best practices for treatment of neurodevelopmental disabilities. The level of professionalism and expertise from the presenters was compelling as was their approachability. Thought-provoking questions and impressive backgrounds paired with friendliness from the other attendees was humbling and encouraging at the same time. Not to mention that many of the attendees informed me they were former LEND trainees! They were all very enthusiastic about my presence at the conference as well, both as a current LEND trainee and as a Pediatric PT Resident. I found myself emailing colleagues throughout the meeting excited to share with them these new connections and compelling evidence regarding new standards of care. I was able to further disseminate and share this inspiring information with my colleagues after returning to Oregon by presenting at the Portland Shriners Hospital Grand Rounds.

AACPDM was a life-changing meeting full of inspirational learning and networking opportunities. I will be sure to return for the 70th meeting and beyond. Also, because of this exceptional meeting and the additional benefits it offers, the AACPDM has recruited a lifelong member in me. I encourage other LEND trainees, regardless of professional discipline, to look into attending an AACPDM meeting. For me it was a career defining step in my professional development.