Conference Center

Sojourn In The Sunshine State

On June 6th thru the 9th, thousands of physical therapists, physical therapists assistants and physical therapy students will arrive in the 3rd largest city in Florida for PT 2012. This year, Tampa plays host to the annual event.

The Tampa Bay area has a rich history. Although Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon landed there in the 16th century, it remained mostly unsettled until the 1800's. The discovery of phosphates created booming mining and shipping industries that still prosper; today the Port of Tampa is the 7th largest in the country. In the 20th century, the Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line introduced the world's first commercial airline service in 1914.

But Tampa's present glistens even more than its past. Conference attendees who have time on their hands will have plenty of leisure options to choose from. To travel through downtown, hop on one of the TECO Line streetcars, for modern convenience with old-fashioned charm.

Floridian Fun
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a 335 acre entertainment park and animal habitat that will thrill visitors with everything from rhinos to roller coasters. The Florida Aquarium's Wild Dolphin cruise gets people up close and personal with the creatures of Tampa Bay. If you're feeling outdoorsy, you can play a round at one of the area's over 100 golf courses, rent a canoe or kayak to explore the Hillsborough River or head onto a chartered fishing boat. For those who prefer being a spectator, Tampa Bay is home to MLB, NHL, NFL and Major League Soccer Teams. The week of the conference, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the MLS team, will be playing in the US Open Cup at Al Lang Stadium in nearby St. Petersburg.

For a uniquely Floridian experience, visit Ybor City, aka Tampa's Latin Quarter. Ybor City was founded in the 1880s as a cigar manufacturing center and it was home to many immigrant communities. Today, the neighborhood has been revitalized and it's one of only two National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida. Walking along its brick streets, people will discover art galleries, live music venues, stores, and of course, restaurants. The Italian, Spanish, Cuban and German settlers who came to Tampa to work in the cigar factories more than 125 years ago left their mark on the restaurant scene. Tampa boasts many dining options to suit every palate, from casual joints to white tablecloth establishments. The Tampa Bay Times named Mise En Place the best restaurant in the downtown area.

The Tampa Convention Center is located on the Tampa Riverwalk, a pedestrian promenade that winds its way along the Hillsborough River. Some of the convention center's neighbors along Riverwalk include the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and the Tampa Museum of Art. Tour the special exhibit, Masterworks of 20th Century Sculpture at the Tampa Museum of Art or catch a show by Bon Iver, the group that won the 2012 Best New Artist Grammy, at the Straz Jr. Center.

Therapy Times
Lest we forget, there is a physical therapy conference in town too!  The theme of PT 2012 is Belong! Interact! Connect! All the old favorites will be there, from the McMillan Lecture-this year given by Alan M. Jette, PT, PhD, FAPTA, on the three skills physical therapists need to practice successfully in the changing health care environment-to the Maley Lecture-given by Edelle Field-Fote, PT, PhD, on standardization-to the always raucous Oxford Debate. Also, the Catherine Worthingham Fellows will be honored, as will the schools that won the Foundation for Physical Therapy Miami - Marquette Challenge.

New for this year is a track option. All sessions are organized into 14 categories, among them, Active Against Cancer, Perspectives in Neurology and Pain, and What's New in Health Care Reform. For an in-depth educational experience, attendees can take all their classes in a specialized track. For a broader approach, attendees can mix and match from the different categories. Participants will have the opportunity to earn up to 21 CEUs. 

Attendees who get to Tampa early can experience intensive pre-conference sessions, such as a two-day class, "Alzheimer Disease: Rehabilitation Considerations in the Examination, Evaluation and Interventions," which is timely, given America's aging population. Another timely topic is yoga. PTs can attend the one-day workshop "Yoga Therapy: Achieving Greater Awareness and Understanding for Healing Our Clients and Ourselves," which will teach the tools to incorporate this therapy.

There will be plenty of continuing education opportunities during the main conference. These sessions include: "Oncology Physical Therapy: Lifespan Survivorship Issues From Primary Care to End of Life," where speakers will talk about issues such as fatigue and gait and balance deficits that patients face post-diagnosis; "The Role of Physical Therapists in Public Health: Prevention and Management of Chronic Disease and Disability," where attendees will learn the role of physical therapy in reducing Metabolic syndrome and associated cardiovascular disease; and "2012 Elections: The Impact on Public Policy Affecting Physical Therapy," which will analyze the impact of the upcoming elections on physical therapy advocacy. In total, there will be more than 90 programs over the three days.

Finally, sure to stop by the Merion Matters booth in the exhibit hall. One of the highlights of the annual meeting, the exhibit hall will feature hundreds of vendors, product demos and the opportunity to mingle with your fellow therapy professionals. Networking will also be the name of the game at the Welcome Coffee event and the Next Step Networking reception for students. PTs can kick up their heels at the Party with the PT-PAC, held off-site at Jackson's Bistro or enjoy the Legacy Gala to support the Foundation for Physical Therapy.

From dawn to dusk, attendees at PT 2012 will have plenty of ways to fill their days in Tampa Bay.

Danielle Bullen is an associate editor at
ADVANCE and can be reached at


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