Manipalooza from a #DPTstudent Perspective

photo 2-2 (2)There are some experiences as a #DPTstudent that leave you feeling energized, happy, and confident that you absolutely made the right career choice. This was one of those experiences. This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to attend Manipalooza put on by Evidence in Motion. Manipalooza is a “3-day festival of hands on learning in manipulation, soft tissue techniques, pain management strategies, sports PT, and practice management. Participants will learn the most cutting edge techniques from experts in the PT field.” I can’t possibly fit everything I learned into a blog post but I am going to recap the many highlights of this experience.

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Saturday kicked off with a freestyle rap performed by a CU student on whatever PT topics the audience threw at him. You can see the video here. How someone raps about CT junction manips or G codes is beyond my comprehension but it was amazing and had everyone laughing to start off the morning. After an introduction to the weekend, Dr. Larry Benz kicked off the presentations with one titled “Deliberate Practice: Taking Your Skills from Good to Great”. This presentation focused on how to create a mindset of growth in order to continue to advance. One topic that Larry discussed that I find myself reflecting on again and again is the concept of “normalized discomfort”. This means that you have to fail in order to be able to grow. We must become more comfortable with failure and constructive criticism as we tend to learn the most from it. If we are not challenging ourselves outside of our comfort zone, we will never move closer to where we want to be. I would say that I found the whole weekend challenging and because of his talk, I was able to tell myself “it’s ok that you are struggling with this technique, this is challenging, and you are learning.”

Daphne Scott, leadership extraordinaire, then took to the floor with a presentation called “Change, Willingness…and Love”. Daphne lead the group through an exercise where we took a complaint we had about work or life, and showed us how to analyze and redirect the complaint and turn it into something more productive but to also stop wasting creative energy on blaming ourselves and instead just recommit to your goal. We discussed how change is hard and how upwards of 70% of companies who try to implement change fails.

After the short morning presentations, you had the choice of 3 different sessions: manual therapy of the foot and ankle (ortho track), neuromuscular intervention for chronic ankle instability (sports track), or time management and the illusion of time (business track). TJ and I decided to go to the ortho track, but I wish we could have been at all 3! Some of the techniques we went over I had previously learned in school but it was really nice to see a few modifications as well as get a nice refresher! I was also exposed to several techniques that we did not learn previously.

TJ practicing a rear foot distraction technique
TJ practicing a rear foot distraction technique


After lunch I decided to switch tracks (the afternoon classes that were offered were manual therapy of the knee, Eval of athletic movement: the ACL, and Career development: Yours and Theirs) and attend the business track on career development lead by Daphne Scott. It was a small group and Daphne asked all of us to tell her what we wanted to get out of the session. TJ and I were the only DPT students in the room (in fact, there were hardly any students at the event at all! Maybe 8 total for the Saturday session and just the two of us on Sunday!) and it was interesting to hear clinic owners talk about developing their staff. We also talked a lot about passion and spotting the employees who find their position to be a job, a career or a calling. A job is something you do to make money. Scooping ice cream when I was 15 was a job. A career is something you are trained in and have room for advancement but would quit if you won the lottery. My previous profession of an accountant was a career. A calling is what you think you were meant to do and you would still pursue it if you won a few million bucks. For me, this is my future in physical therapy- I am passionate about it so much that even if I were rich I would still be a physical therapist (granted, one that takes super fancy vacations).  I was able to leave that session knowing what I am looking for as far as career development goes and how to be sure that my values align with a potential employer.

A few of my classmates that attended!


The Sunday sessions were equally as fun! We kicked off the morning with 4 hours of thoracic and rib cage manual therapy and manipulations taught by Tim Flynn. The afternoon was 4 hours of cervical manips taught by Jason Rodeghero, EIM’s orthopedic residency director. Both sessions integrated clinical reasoning alongside of the manual techniques. What I absolutely loved about all of the lab sessions is how many EIM faculty were there to help! I had personalized attention from at least one -but most times 2 different faculty helped- on every single technique. I was offered advice on how to modify skills based on my size, how to adjust my hand placement, and several times a faculty would place their hands over mine to make sure I was where I was supposed to be. Jason even taught us a little trick to help with speed of manipulations by using a water bottle to practice the small quick movements! I have been doing this with my water bottle every day…but make sure the lid is on tight enough or else you have water all of the floor…not like I did that or anything.

Learned several modifications for this technique in order to perform it on patients bigger than I am (which is everyone)
Learned several modifications for this technique in order to perform it on patients bigger than I am (which is everyone)

I was introduced to some of the techniques in school but I left on Sunday with many more skills in my proverbial PT toolbox and a greater sense of confidence about using my hands on a patient. In fact, I thought to myself many times, “I had no idea this many manual techniques even existed!” As I said before the weekend was challenging. TJ and I would talk through each technique in regards to when you would use it on a patient before practicing on each other. With many of the techniques we struggled at first, but with deliberate practice (Thanks, Dr. Benz!) and amazing faculty there to help us we were successful with all of the techniques before we left. We ended Sunday by attending the complimentary managers reception at the host hotel where we were able to chat with the EIM faculty and other participants.

TJ and I with Dr. John Childs and Dr. Tim Flynn
TJ and I with Dr. John Childs and Dr. Tim Flynn


Unfortunately, I had to high tail it back to Wyoming for clinical on Monday, so I missed the last day. However, one of the best parts about Manipalooza is that EIM gives you online access to their Moodle which is an online classroom and I was able to download all of the slides from the sessions I missed!

I would argue that Manipalooza is one of the absolute best conferences a DPT student could attend. The clinical reasoning, hands on labs, and amount of fun is unparalleled. If you want to take your manual skills to the next level before graduation this is the place to go The personalized attention allowed me to leave with a sense of confidence in the skills that I learned. Manipalooza will be an event that I attend year after year. It is just too good to miss!

Thank you again to EIM for such an amazing event!

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