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Conducting a Conference to Promote using Research on Exercise for Older Adults in Clinical Practice

by APTA August 1, 2011

The American Physical Therapy Association Section on Geriatrics held a 3-day conference in July 2010 on the campus of the University of Indianapolis to promote the application of research on benefits of exercise for older adults into clinical practice. Both the content format and the unique meeting planning create a model that may be useful to other organizations planning an education offering on the value of physical activity.

The conference, Exercise and Physical Activity in Aging Conference (ExPAAC): Blending Research and Practice, was hosted by the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community and Krannert School of Physical Therapy, and drew 350 participants. Presentation topics included the effects of PA and exercise on health and aging, how to affect behavioral change, and evidence-based prescription for older adults. Our goals for the conference were to: 1) make available current research about PA and exercise from middle through older adulthood; 2) translate research into evidence based practice; 3) identify barriers to translation of research into evidence based practice; 4) promote best practices in physical therapist practice; and 5) evaluate public policies that influence the capacity of physical therapists to provide services. Speakers included national and international researchers Jack Guralnik, MD, PhD, MPH; Pamela Duncan, PT, PhD, FAPTA, FAHA; Alexandre Kalache, MSc, MD, PhD, FRCPH; James Rimmer, PhD; Thomas Prochaska, PhD; Barbara Resnik, PhD, RN, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP; and Luigi Ferrucci, MD, PhD.

Session topics included national and international physical activity initiatives, effects of physical activity and exercise on components of health and aging, determinants of behavior change, and evidence based practice exercise for optimizing function. We also held an evening poster presentation session to highlight case reports, research studies, special interest reports, and theory reports. Some participants wished to attend ExPAAC but felt they needed a review in geriatrics, so we offered a one-day pre-conference course that enabled these participants to maximize their experience. The closing keynote speech was delivered by Dr. James Canton, PhD, renowned author and advisor from the Institute for Global Futures.

Holding the conference at the university allowed us to have many great opportunities for networking and discussion - both formal and informal - at mealtimes in the campus cafeteria, during breaks on the outdoor commons, and at several special social events planned for conference attendees. Attendees stayed in the nearby Holiday Inn or in the dormitories on campus, which had the advantages of lower hotel and meeting site costs. An additional benefit was that conference participants were invited to attend exercise classes and to use campus recreational facilities during their free time.

For those who were unable to attend ExPAAC, we made sure that all of the sessions could be purchased through the APTA Learning Center at (click on "Courses" and search for ExPAAC). The PowerPoint presentations and the commentary of the experts during their ExPAAC presentations were included. Each session features multiple choice question examinations for the purposes of CEU credit.

Because of ExPAAC's overwhelming success, the Section on Geriatrics is considering an "ExPAAC II" in the next 5-10 years. We hope that a model such as ours will be as successful for you as it was for us...

Written by guest bloggers: Ellen Milner, PT, PhD; David M. Morris, PT, PhD

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