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  • Early Bird Discounts Extended for NEXT, NACR Events

    Procrastination almost never pays off. But sometimes its consequences can be avoided.

    APTA members have been given a brief do-over on early registration discounts for 2 upcoming events, but the windows will soon close, and close for good. So make plans to stop procrastinating.

    APTA members who missed the discounted registration deadline for the NEXT Conference and Exposition June 11-14 in Charlotte now have until April 10 to register at the low rate by using the discount code NEXTEB2014E. NEXT evolved from the meeting formerly known as the Annual Conference and Exhibition, and though the focus and tone of NEXT will be on what's ahead for the profession, the event will also feature many of the popular elements of past annual conferences including the McMillan and Maley lectures and the Oxford Debate.

    For the even more dedicated procrastinators who also happen to be interested in getting a geographically diverse view of physical therapy, discounted rates have been extended until April 11 for the North American Caribbean Region continuing education conference taking place April 25-27 in Miami. A list of courses and continuing education units awarded is available at the APTA Learning Center. The NACR is a regional body of the World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WCPT), of which APTA is a member organization. APTA is hosting the meeting. For more information on the conference, contact René Malone.

    Spinal Stimulation Restores Voluntary Movement to Patients With Paraplegia

    In results that even study authors describe as "surprising," electrical stimulation of the spinal cord accompanied by a home exercise program has helped 4 people with paraplegia regain movement in muscles that had been paralyzed for more than 2 years. The technique, which uses a 16-electrode array implanted on the spinal cord, allowed all 4 patients to regain some voluntary control of previously paralyzed muscles within days of the start of stimulation. The study quickly received coverage from media outlets such as CNN and the Los Angeles Times.

    The report, published in the journal Brain, follows up a pilot trial of 1 patient that began in 2009. In that pilot, patient Rob Summers was implanted with the electrodes and engaged in intensive physical therapy using a harness suspended over a treadmill. According to a press release from the National Institutes of Health, which helped fund the study, "with his stimulator active Summers was able to gradually bear his own weight and could eventually stand without assistance from physical therapists for up to 4 minutes." In addition, other related impairments improved over time absent the stimulation, including bladder control and sexual function.

    The follow-up study focused on 3 patients, 2 of whom have complete sensory and motor paralysis, and 1 who, like Summers, has complete paralysis but some sensation below the injury. With the stimulator active, all 3 patients were able to engage in some level of voluntary movement in response to auditory cues. Researchers posted a brief video of 1 patient moving his legs and feet voluntarily.

    While by no means a return to full function, the ability to engage in voluntary movement of any kind was exciting news for the researchers, who wrote that "We have uncovered a fundamentally new intervention strategy that can dramatically affect recovery of voluntary movement in individuals with complete paralysis even years after injury."

    2014 Forum Brings Energy to PT Advocacy

    APTA members from across the country met with their legislators on Capitol Hill this week to discuss issues impacting the physical therapy profession as part of the APTA Federal Advocacy Forum, a 3-day event that focuses on the importance of educating legislators on the role, value, and interests of physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs).

    The Forum featured several speakers, including Brad Fitch from the Congressional Management Foundation, Stephanie Cutter, host of CNN’s Crossfire, and Rep Jackie Speier (D-CA).

    Fitch shared strategies for building relationships with members of Congress and tips for attending events with legislators, and later led a breakout session on how to turn patient stories into effective advocacy tools. Cutter discussed the political climate in Washington, DC, and its impact on health care policy. Speier rallied attendees by sharing her experience with physical therapy and the profound impact it has had on her life.

    APTA also presented the 2014 Public Service and Federal Government Affairs Leadership awards at the Forum. Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) was the recipient of the Public Service Award for his support of the physical therapy profession and for helping bring the benefits of physical therapy to a national stage. The Federal Government Affairs Leadership award was given to Mark Anderson, PT, MPT, from Utah. Anderson has been advocating for the profession for 21 years and during that time has built meaningful relationships with Utah legislators. He also helps mentor students and other Utah members who are getting started in advocacy at the federal level.

    The Forum ended April 8, but APTA members can get involved and advocate for the profession by scheduling a district meeting or attending a local town hall event. The House and Senate will be in recess April 14 through 25, and members of Congress will be in their home states and districts during this time. Members who are interested in getting involved in advocacy and grassroots can also join the PTeam to stay up-to-date on the latest legislative issues.