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Attendees of ISS 2019


The 37th International Seating Symposium (ISS) brought together more than 1,200 participants who quickly learned how the theme of “Showing our Value” applied to the work of researchers in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology (RST) at the University of Pittsburgh.

During the three-day virtual event, which was held from Jan. 31 through Feb. 2, 2022, attendees could select from 106 educational sessions. Presentations were made by physical therapists, occupational therapists, assistive technology professionals (ATPs) and speech-language pathologists as well as seating and mobility experts and rehabilitation scientists. Topics ranged from the benefits of telehealth to how to set up a wheelchair follow-up clinic and addressed concerns of senior as well as pediatric wheelchair users. “Many of the presentations from RST faculty and alumni focused on the interdisciplinary aspects of the field and on knowledge translation of research and best practices to other areas of practice or to other areas of the world,” says Assistant Professor and RST Director of Continuing Education Rachel Hibbs. There were also multiple presentations of international work— translating research and outcome measures to other languages and implementation in Colombia, Brazil and other underserved areas. FACETS SPRING/SUMMER 2022 32 Among the educational sessions with particularly high attendance were “Wheels and Casters: It’s How We Roll,” by RST alumnus Joseph Ott (PhD ’20) and “The Development of the Seating and Mobility Index,” presented by Hibbs, a result of the collaboration between Pitt RST, the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University. 

Dan Ding, associate professor, and Lindsey Morris, OTD, of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, showcased “Mainstream Home Technologies for People with Disabilities.” It’s part of an ISS educational track that RST piloted this year in collaboration with the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) to highlight the interdisciplinary work of professionals in the field. “Because the event was virtual, it was much more convenient for many attendees, especially those far away or who have less resources to travel,” notes Mark Schmeler, RST vice chair for Education & Training and associate professor. “ISS is one of the only—and certainly the largest—academicbased conferences in the field of complex rehabilitation technology,” Schmeler continues. “Because it is managed by SHRS and clinicians and ATPs around the world lean on ISS for the most up-to-date information, we provide a thorough review process before the material is delivered.”

“The symposium is a huge resource for professionals,” confirms Hibbs. “Attendees can earn 16.5 hours of CEU credit and participants can continue to enroll and enjoy access to the entire conference for one full year.” Feedback from the symposium has been positive. According to Ana Allegretti (MS ’04, PhD ’08), associate professor, Department of Occupational Therapy at UT Health San Antonio, “It was a wonderful conference with great educational content taught by subject matter experts from around the world. The presentations were thought-provoking and disseminated a lot of updated information. The Meet and Greet sessions, along with the virtual Exhibit Hall, allowed for great discussion and to view new products.”

This article first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2022 edition of FACETS, the school's magazine published biannually.