American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Annual Conference- An important educational and research platform for pediatric stroke rehabilitation.

Nov 13, 2020

By Todd Levy.

The American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) is the largest organization for rehabilitation research in the United States and includes many nations. Its’ mission is to improve lives through interdisciplinary rehabilitation research. Its’ endeavors include knowledge translation, dissemination of research, and clinical training. ACRM has two journals including the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation which is celebrating its 100 year anniversary. The Archives is the most cited rehabilitation journal with an impact factor of 3.098 and trending upwards.

IPSO and ACRM have much in common and together can harness recent momentum for pediatric stroke rehabilitation research. I feel that this is a particularly good time to introduce these two important organizations. Dr. Rebecca Ichord and I founded the ACRM Pediatric Stroke Task Force in 2018 and held the first full membership meeting in April 2019. IPSO member Shelley Dean, OT has been advancing pediatric stroke through the ACRM prior to the formation of this current task force and serves as the task force communications liaison.  We quickly grew to well over 60 members including medical doctors, occupational therapists, physical therapists, neuropsychologists, speech language pathologists, neuroscientists, and other disciplines. The taskforce presented 4 symposia at international conferences over the past 2 years. We are in the process of preparing multiple knowledge translation manuscripts.

ACRM’s 97th annual conference occurred virtually October 19-23. As a member of the conference planning committee I must admit I was nervous about transitioning to a virtual platform. More than 2,000 professionals attended the conference (so far) and its content was outstanding. We even experienced lively discussions and Q&A sessions. One benefit of the virtual format is that much of the content remains available for purchase through June 2021. There are continuing education units (CEUs) available through the content. IPSO members will have a 15% off discount to purchase the content until November 30th, 2020. Please contact IPSO for the discount code and visit the website for more information.

I would like to highlight just a few of the many relevant talks.

  • Michelle L Woodbury, PhD, OTR/L presented a talk titled “The rehabilitation therapist is the bridge between stroke rehabilitation research and practice” winning the ACRM/American Stroke Association Award Lecture for Excellence. She discussed methodologies for transforming standardized Fugl-Meyer assessment scores into information therapists can apply to guide treatment at the level of activity. Dr. Woodbury applied Item Response Theory and collaborations between researchers and clinicians to complete this work on a sample of over 500 adults. These methods can be applied for our use in pediatrics.
  • Lara A Boyd, PT, PdD and Lynne Gauthier, PhD. summarized a large body of research informing how exercise, neuromodulation, and robotics can be paired with skilled motor practice to improve outcomes in stroke in their talk “Interacting with the human brain: how can we stimulate positive neuroplasticity?”
  • Susan V. Duff, EdD, MPT, OT/L, CHT, Jill C. Heathcock, MPT, PhD, and Laura A. Prosser, PT, PhD presented a variety of techniques they employ in ongoing studies to increase patient-initiated movement to improve rehabilitation outcomes for infants and toddlers.
  • Other members of the ACRM Pediatric Stroke Task Force delivered two pediatric stroke-specific symposia using a transdisciplinary approach, “Optimizing activity- and participation- level outcomes for children following brain injury by addressing neurobehavioral and neurocognitive barriers to success”, and “Assessment strategies to guide occupational and physical therapy interventions after pediatric brain injury: considering individual goals and transition into adulthood.
  • John Whyte, MD, PhD, Jeanne Zanca, PdD, MPT, FACRM, and others taught an instructional course on using the Rehabilitation Treatment Specification System (RTSS). This is an important new tool funded by NIDILRR and PCORI to define rehabilitation treatments in order to improve treatment fidelity across research sites, translation of research protocols into practice, and to enable comparative studies. In addition, the RTSS is a wonderful tool to enhance clinical reasoning skills and help clinicians and students plan treatment sessions.

In addition to watching our patients grow and overcome barriers to their goals, it is also rewarding to see interdisciplinary groups with common interests  to come together for our patient’s goals and for the field pediatric stroke rehabilitation. The formation of the IPSO and the ACRM’s Pediatric Stroke Task Force represents considerable momentum and potential. If you are not already involved in one or both organizations, please explore their respective websites, consider purchasing the ACRM content referred to above, or simply reach out to leadership to learn more. If you are already involved, now is the time to jump into an ongoing project or propose new ideas.

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Links to Relevant Scientific Publications:

“Translating measurement findings in rehabilitation practice:  An example using Fugl-Meyer Assessment-Upper Extremity with patients following stroke”

“Rasch Analysis Staging Methodology to Classify Upper Extremity Movement Impairment After Stroke”

“Interpreting Action Research Arm Test Assessment Sores to Plan Treatment Sessions

“A Theory-Driven System for the Specification of Rehabilitation Treatments”

Manual for Rehabilitation Treatment Specification

Todd J Levy, MS, OTR/L, CBIST

Todd J Levy, MS, OTR/L, CBIST

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Todd J Levy, MS, OTR/L, CBIST is Clinical Specialist in Occupational Therapy at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He is the lead Occupational Therapist for the Pediatric Stroke Program at CHOP and member of the CHOP/University of Pennsylvania Hand Transplantation Program. He is co-chairman of the American Congress for Rehabilitation’s Pediatric Stroke Taskforce and vice chairman of IPSO’s Education Committee. He is excited about the possibilities of these two groups working together.

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