2021 Virtual Conference

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Pre-Conference Presentation Details

LINKED: Breathing & Postural Control presented by Mary Massery, PT, DPT, DSc

         This course, developed by Mary Massery, will challenge the practitioner to make a paradigm shift: connecting breathing mechanics and postural control with management of trunk pressures. Using Dr. Massery’s model of postural control (Soda Pop Can Model), the speaker will link breathing mechanics with motor and physiologic behaviors (a multi-system perspective).  The speaker will present novel research demonstrating the role of vocal folds as postural stabilizers, extending the concept of “core stability” from the vocal folds on the top of the trunk to the pelvic floor on the bottom.  Numerous interventions will be presented that use positioning and ventilatory strategies to optimize motor performance.  Multiple patient cases will be presented throughout the course.  The emphasis of the course will be on developing practical, quick clinical solutions for pediatric and adult patients in all practice settings. 


  1. Describe how trunk pressures link breathing and postural control using the Soda Pop Can Model.
  2. Describe the multiple, simultaneous roles of the diaphragm as related to breathing, postural control, gastroesophageal reflux, constipation, and venous return.
  3. Demonstrate the role of the vocal folds in normal postural stability responses (balance) and make the case for using speaking valves for patients with tracheostomies.
  4. Position patients for optimal physiological and biomechanical support of breathing with simple equipment (towels, pillows, etc.).
  5. Use a ventilatory strategy algorithm presented in class to optimally match breathing with movements from bed mobility to athletic endeavors.
  6. Apply concepts to a wide variety of patient populations from infancy to geriatrics.


       Mary Massery, PT, DPT, DSc

Dr. Massery received her BS in Physical Therapy from Northwestern University in 1977, her DPT from the University of the Pacific in 2004 and her DSc from Rocky Mountain University in 2011. Her publications and interests focus on linking motor behaviors to breathing and/or postural mechanics in both pediatric and adult patient populations.  Dr. Massery has been invited to give over 900 professional presentations in all 50 US states and in 18 countries worldwide, including more than 100 presentations for the American Physical Therapy Association.  Mary’s research pioneered the concept of managing trunk pressures as a new way to visualize core stabilization.  She has delivered keynote and major addresses on topics such as cystic fibrosis and posture, pectus excavatum (chest deformities), connections between posture & breathing, and PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation).

Mary has received national awards from the APTA, including its highest clinical award, The Florence Kendall Practice Award, honoring “one’s outstanding and enduring contributions to the practice of physical therapy." She has been honored as Outstanding Alumnus of the Year by each of her 3 universities.  She was also awarded Northwestern University’s Alumnae Research Achievement Award.  Mary continues to maintain a private practice in Chicago, specializing in breathing and postural dysfunction.


Keynote Presentation  A Learning Opportunity - See the opportunity and importance of errors in our lives and in our patients

The theme of our conference, Perspectives in Practice, may we start by understanding that errors, mistakes, miscues, and miscalculations - are all beneficial. The evidence is overwhelming to support the fact that human learning requires a repeated stimulus (a challenge) for repetitions and experiences to be meaningful enough to make a memory of any kind: facts, events, and movements. Too many errors and an individual may give up or become depressed, too much success and many more will become bored. Neither condition, depression or boredom, offer a therapeutic environment for learning. We will learn that in the correct dosage, "To err is human, to learn, is divine!".  


Plenary Presentation  Movement in the Background: Your patient learning and retaining motor control without your full attention 

No matter our physical or cognitive abilities, we all have stored procedural memories, ready to use in sport, life, and work. We can adjust these movements in the context of the environment and circumstances of fatigue, pressure, weather, obstacles and opponent. Procedural memories are available and essential, but do we presently do enough to purposefully train them (preserve in persons with degenerative disease) or rehabilitate/return them in those that are recovering (stroke, brain injury, CP)? In this course, we will review, APPLY, and ADVANCE the science of procedural learning (regaining automatic function) in everyday mobility, ADLs, sport and vocation – revealing applications and insights as to how medical professionals can use dual task testing and training to promote optimal function and tolerance of a distracting world and regain, "Movement in the Background".

Keynote & Plenary  Speaker

   Mike Studer, PT, MHS, NCS, CEEAA, CWT, CSST, FAPTA received his physical therapy degree from the University of Missouri–Columbia in 1991. He received his postprofessional MHS degree in physical therapy with neurologic emphasis from the University of Indianapolis. He has been board-certified as a Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy since 1995 and has been designated a Certified Exercise Expert in the Aging Adult (CEEAA) by the Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy since 2011. Mike has served as the vice president of the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy of the APTA and has been the chair and vice-chair of several special interest groups at the national level in each of the Academies of Neurologic and Geriatric Physical Therapy, including Balance and Falls, Stroke, and the Practice Committee in Neurology. He is a full-time treating therapist and founder of Northwest Rehabilitation Associates in Oregon. Mr. Studer has presented courses and published articles on neurologic and geriatric rehabilitation since 1995 and has authored and coauthored more than 30 articles on topics of neurology and geriatrics, as well as several book chapters on stroke, cognition, Parkinson's disease, and preventive care. Mike is now regularly a guest lecturer on a national and international basis at several universities and national meetings on the topics of stroke, Parkinson’s disease, balance, motor control, motor learning, cognitive impairment, and case management. He was awarded the 2011 Clinician of the Year award by the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy, a section of the American Physical Therapy Association, and in 2014 received the same award from the Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy. He was the first to receive this national distinction from each entity.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial:   Mary Massery and Mike Studer are independent contractors for the AHA, Inc. and receives a fee from AHA, Inc. for instructional services.

Non-Financial:  No relevant non-financial relationship exists between the speakers and AHA, Inc. 

Concurrent Sessions Program