The two lecturers selected to speak as part of APTA's Founders' Day Weekend Series may have focused on different topics, but, in the end, their messages were remarkably similar: If the physical therapy profession leans into its commitment to continual improvement, collaboration, and community, the next 100 years can be even brighter than the first.
The lecturers — Stuart Binder-Macleod, PT, PhD, FAPTA, who delivered the 51st annual Mary McMillan Lecture, and Alison Cernich, PhD, who presented on new opportunities for physical therapy research — were part of an APTA Founders' Day weekend that included a 100th anniversary celebration and the ribbon cutting for APTA Centennial Center, the association's new headquarters.
Grateful — And Dedicated
Binder-Macleod’s lecture included several association firsts: the first McMillan to be delivered virtually; the first lecture to be prerecorded; and, as near as our records can determine, the first lecture to open and close with the Grateful Dead — specifically, the song "Truckin,'" which includes the familiar lines "what a long, strange trip it's been."
Binder-Macleod, a renowned researcher and instructor who recently retired from his position at the University of Delaware Department of Physical Therapy, titled his lecture "What I Know: The Value of Mentoring and Leadership." Binder-Macleod traced his own long, strange professional trip, and used his story to point out thoughtful leaders and mentors who were there for him at crucial times in his life, and how their inspiration, enthusiasm, and occasional well-placed kicks you-know-where helped him achieve more than he thought possible.
The lecture, available free with registration for the APTA Combined Sections Meeting, combines the wisdom and insight that are hallmarks of McMillan lectures with engaging storytelling and no small amount of humor. Through it all, Binder-Macleod makes it clear that being an influential mentor is possible for anyone in the physical therapy profession — but more important, it's one of the profession's highest callings.
Although the lecture was prerecorded, Binder-Macleod was on hand live to respond to questions from viewers (the recorded Q&A session is included in the content available to registrants). During that conversation, he emphasized that for the profession to thrive, a commitment to mentorship must include a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at a personal level.
"If we as individuals can embrace (DEI), we can make changes," Binder-Macleod said. "As individuals, if we appreciate the value of diversity and actually reach out to somebody different than us, we are making a huge impact. It's the individuals that really have to go and put in the effort and make it happen."
The NIH Response to COVID — And What It Means for Physical Therapy Research
Cernich, deputy director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, delivered a presentation that, while different from Binder-Macleod's, offered up an equally forward-looking perspective — in this instance, the promise for increased physical therapy research as part of a broad response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In her presentation, also available free with registration for APTA CSM, Cernich outlines the ways in which the National Institutes for Health reacted to the pandemic, as well as new and revitalized collaborative efforts between NIH components and other entities.
The stepped-up efforts are part of NIH's work to facilitate research that can strengthen treatment — including rehabilitation — related to COVID-19. Because the disease is associated with significant cardiopulmonary and neurological conditions that can affect individuals for months after recovery from the virus, the rehabilitation research community is positioned to make significant contributions to research.
"(COVID-19) is a cardiopulmonary disease and there's so many years of good evidence on cardiovascular-pulmonary rehab," Cernich said during the live Q&A session that followed the prerecorded lecture. "You already have some of that evidence, and I think if you position it in such a way that it's persuasive and needs to be done, there will be funding."