International Seating Symposium Celebrates "Moving into the Age of Accountability"

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Armed with a syllabus/event program nearly a half-inch thick, attendees at the 23rd International Seating Symposium (ISS) descended upon the Buena Vista Palace hotel and conference center March 8-10 to view new technology, to hear about ongoing research and -- perhaps most importantly -- to network and catch up with colleagues and friends who just happen to be among the industry's leading experts in seating and mobility.

While many events like to tout themselves as "international," ISS truly means it. Ask the person next to you at the exhibit hall lunch buffet "Where are you from?", and you're quite likely to hear "Iceland" or some similar far-flung city. Who knew Iceland was just a six-hour plane ride from Walt Disney World?

This year's conference theme was "Moving into the Age of Accountability," and keynote speaker Marilyn Hamilton led off the event with her talk entitled "Change is Inevitable, Direction is Choice." The Quickie co-founder asked if attendees are "enablers" -- and had conference participants wondering if, by sheltering end-users from the cold, hard facts about rehab coverage criteria and reimbursement, we are inadvertently contributing to funding woes. Hamilton distributed carabiners inscribed with "If you can't stand up… stand out!"

The focus of the event seemed to be on the end-user -- specifically about making the end-user a more integral part of the seating and mobility decision-making team. Permobil, The ROHO Group and TiLite kicked off the event by introducing the Users First Alliance, an organization devoted to educating end-users about their rights when it comes to selecting the seating and mobility equipment they use (see Upwardly Mobile Column: Going Boldly for details) .

On the research side, the A.R.T. Group sponsored a presentation by Dr. Michael E. Hahn of Montana State University on the "Effects of Dynamic Wheelchair Seating on Spasticity and Functional Mobility in Children." Hahn, with colleagues Wayne Hanson (KidsUp, Inc.) and Sheri Simkins, PT, is studying children with spastic cerebral palsy to determine whether children's functionality improves by using seating systems designed to move with their users.

Other ISS presentations ranged from Investigating the Segway Human Transporter as an Alternative Mobility Device to discussions on pressure ulcers, transporting wheelchairs in motor vehicles and manual wheelchair design.

The next International Seating Symposium is scheduled for March 5-8, 2008, in British Columbia at the Westin Bayshore Hotel. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Geoff Fernie, director of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, who will be discussing "The Aging Process." Scheduled plenary sessions will feature Dr. Jean Minkel ("Multiple Sclerosis: Understanding the Beast Within") and wheelchair marathon athlete medalist Kelly Smith ("2010: The Paralympics"). The deadline to submit abstracts is May 30, 2007, so if you'd like to attend or present, go here for more information.

This article originally appeared in the May 2007 issue of Mobility Management.

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