AOTA Conference Kicks Off
The 93rd Annual AOTA Conference and Expo kicked off yesterday to great fanfare, with the University of Southern California marching band leading off the Welcome Ceremony and Keynote Address. AOTA President Florence Clark greeted thousands of conference attendees in a packed hall that was nearly standing room only. This conference, she said, is on track to tie the second highest number of attendees at any AOTA Conference.
In her welcome, Clark announced a new AOTA/AOTF grant program, which will initially target research in autism spectrum disorders and health and aging issues. Those interested in contributing to the grant program can give a $10 donation by texting AOTF to 80888. She also informed attendees of AOTA’s new member benefit that gives members access to international research journals, including the scholarly OT journals of the Canadian and British OT Associations.
Keynoter Aron Ralston took the stage after being introduced by the OT who treated him and trained him in the use of his myoelectric arm. Ralston, subject of the film 127 Hours, was hiking in Utah 10 years ago when a boulder came crashing down on him and pinned his right arm for 5 days. He eventually severed his arm to break free and after climbing out of the gorge he had been hiking and walking several miles, was rescued by helicopter. Ralston told the shocking and inspiring story of how he escaped and the lessons he learned – primarily that when faced with real hardship, you learn your inner strength and what is important to you. Don’t overlook, he said, “the gifts our boulders give us.”
After the opening events, attendees trekked next door to the Expo Hall, where hundreds of vendors were ready and eager to show their wares and services. Ralston signed copies of his book and movie at the AOTA Marketplace, where the lines snaked throughout the hall and the books and movies sold out.
There are two more days of exciting learning and networking opportunities here in San Diego. Check out our Facebook page for live updates and photos, and check back at our blog for more reports from the conference floor.