Looking Back to the Future: APTA's First National Conference
"Think again and see if you cannot possibly make your vacation include June 27-30 and have Orlando as your objective."
Most of that sentence came directly from a notice in The P.T. Review (now known as PTJ) advertising the First National Convention of the APTA, nearly 96 years ago. The only difference? We changed the date and inserted the upcoming APTA NEXT Conference and Exposition, in Orlando, in place of APTA's first national conference location, the Boston School of Physical Education, held in September 1922.
"The Convention should do much to straighten out some vexing questions as well as give the Association an added impetus," the notice reads. Among the "vexing questions" that were debated by the 63 attendees: Should "qualified" male physical therapists be admitted? Should the APTA constitution define minimum requirements for general education and specialized training?
Highlights of the convention included presentations on electrotherapy, exercise therapy, and hydrotherapy, and even a "paper with lantern slides" on posture training by physical therapist Inga Lohne. (Lohne, incidentally, became APTA's second president the following year.) Physician Frank Granger led clinical observations on muscle reeducation at Boston City Hospital.
While the modern-day NEXT conference is much larger and comprehensive, the collegial atmosphere remains much as described by then-president Mary McMillan in Chapter 3 of Healing the Generations: A History of Physical Therapy and the American Physical Therapy Association: "We shall endeavor to be as informal and homelike in our meetings as possible, in order that we shall be able to get close to one another in understanding."
And was the convention a success? Here's what The P.T. Review had to say about it afterwards.