Evan Johnson, DPT, Director of Physical Therapy at the Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York, recently returned to the annual meeting of the North American Spine Society (NASS).
NASS notes that its annual conference, held this year in Boston, is “the largest spine meeting and exhibition in the world.” In advance of the 2016 sessions, organizers channeled the enthusiasm of past participants—“Inspiration is guaranteed,” the website announced.
Indeed, nowhere will you find people more excited about neck rehabilitation. The importance of getting together to share information about best practices is real, says Dr. Johnson. And he takes the organizers’ pledge seriously.
Dr. Johnson explains that his own inspiration for spine care comes from his patients. “The thing I like most about physical therapy is how you touch people’s lives,” he says. “You not only touch the human being, you touch the person. What a privilege.”
Their session addressed shoulder and neck pain—“Interdisciplinary Spine Care: Shoulder-Neck Syndromes: Evaluation and Treatment of Patients with Concurrent Neck Pain and Upper Quarter Pathology.”
Because muscles, ligaments and bones in the neck and shoulder area interact in complex ways, and their pain patterns overlap, it can be unusually difficult to figure out how a patient’s pain or disability has developed—and how to help.
Dr. Johnson’s panel was designed to delve into these challenges. Six presenters offered perspectives on the most effective ways to examine, diagnose and treat patients who have concurrent shoulder and neck pain.
Along with Dr. Johnson, the panelists included physicians and physical therapists from around the country recognized for their expertise in the integrated care of patients with neck pain and disability.
The diversity of the panelists’ specialties represents an important aspect of spine care—that the best care is often multidisciplinary, Dr. Johnson says. In fact, his job at the Spine Center is all about making sure therapists, surgeons and other doctors work together to meet the needs of each patient.
Those in the conference audience had a lot of information to process, but they were probably wide awake and ready to focus. According to NASS, at last year’s meeting attendees downed 39,031 cups of coffee!