PHILADELPHIA – The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) celebrated its 100th anniversary in style last week by hosting the 2017 Annual Conference & Centennial Celebration in a fittingly historic location, Philadelphia. Approximately 13,000 occupational therapy clinicians, educators and students rocked the Cradle of Liberty from March 30-April 2.

AOTA 2017 Annual Conference Centennial Celebration Philadelphia attendees

The 2017 AOTA Annual Conference & Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia attracted an estimated 13,000 attendees.

The beautiful Pennsylvania Convention Center in center city played host as these attendees networked, discussed the latest research and interventions on innovative ways to help people live life to the fullest, and of course celebrated the centennial of their admirable profession.

“AOTA’s Annual Conference & Expo has grown significantly over the past five years and we will likely set an attendance record in Philadelphia,” said Frederick P. Somers, chief executive officer for AOTA, prior to the event. “In addition to having attendees from across the United States, this year will host more than 200 attendees from 20 different nations helping us mark our centennial celebration.”

Of course, HawkGrips was on the scene too as an enthusiastic exhibitor, interacting with hundreds of passionate attendees who stopped by the booth to learn more about our products or see a treatment demonstration.

“Part of the mission of HawkGrips is to support the healthcare professionals who support us,” related HawkGrips Founder & President Frank Osborne, who helped staff our booth. “This is such an important event for the occupational therapy profession. We congratulate them on their centennial anniversary and enjoyed meeting so many dedicated OT professionals during the course of the conference.”

AOTA HawkGrips President Frank Osborne attendees Annual Conference

HawkGrips Founder & President Frank Osborne speaks with attendees at the AOTA conference.

According to the AOTA, Occupational therapy practitioners help people across the lifespan to live as independently as possible, despite illness, injury, developmental delays, or mental disability. Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations).”

Education Sessions

The centennial celebration in Philadelphia included more than 1,600 educational sessions covering a variety of topics including:

  • Early identification of the signs of autism spectrum disorder, and interventions that make a difference in the lives of families facing these challenges.
  • Helping Wounded Warriors regain function, manage PTSD, and lead meaningful lives after their military service.
  • Modifying homes and exploring community mobility options so aging baby boomers can age in place safely, increase confidence, prevent injury, and maintain their independence.
  • Breaking research that explains the lifelong benefits of ongoing occupational therapy for those seeking to regain function after a stroke.
  • Using animal-assisted therapy to help motivate clients to thrive despite illness or injury.
  • Hands-on training in Universal Design to support visitors with physical disabilities to access museum environments.

The Expo Hall at the AOTA Annual Conference is the world’s largest gathering of occupational therapy companies representing products, professional development, and employment opportunities. Many of the 400 companies at more than 500 booths offered interactive displays of the latest advances in technology and rehabilitation. Companies from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands were all among the crowd. For additional information about this event, please visit the AOTA website.

Brian W. Ferrie is the editorial & multimedia director for HawkGrips and can be reached at

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