The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) puts on a few big conferences throughout the year, and the Combined Sections Meeting held every winter is its biggest. This year’s edition actually set a record with more than 17,000 attendees, making it the APTA’s largest event of all time!

APTA Combined Sections Meeting New Orleans HawkGrips Handlebar instrument treatment demonstration

HawkGrips Director of Education Trista Barish, MS, ATC, provides a live treatment demonstration of the Handlebar instrument at the 2018 APTA Combined Sections Meeting in New Orleans.

Held in New Orleans from Feb. 21-24, the 2018 Combined Sections Meeting marked the third year in a row that the conference achieved a record attendance number. The impressive number of attendees necessitated an expansion to three venues, and the expansive exhibit hall hosted more than 450 companies, including HawkGrips.

Perhaps it was the promise of delicious seafood and entertaining nightlife that helped draw so many people to the Combined Sections Meeting this year, but we certainly made the most out of the high attendance! The days passed very quickly as we talked with future members of the profession, enthusiastic educators, and current rehabilitation practitioners.

On a day-to-day basis at HawkGrips, we typically spend time speaking with practitioners, and at conferences we get to enjoy talking to educators and students as well about what’s on their mind. Are students encountering instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) in their clinical rotations? More often than not, the answer is yes, in one form or another.

This trend, in turn, is generating interest from educators to ensure their students are fully prepared for the “real world,” so they can treat and appropriately choose the best care for each patient. As a result, we’re starting to incorporate the HawkGrips introductory certification course, “Level I: IASTM Fundamentals,” into select college and university curriculums. It’s an exciting time to be a student!

Live Treatment Demonstrations

Not only were we talking up a storm at the booth, but we now also offer live demonstrations of HawkGrips instruments! Our good friend Dr. Keith Cronin, DPT, OCS, CSCS, recently founded a company called Biomechanikits that integrates complementary treatment modalities such as biomechanical taping, orthotic fitting, IASTM, biomechanics tracking, and cold therapy.

Each day at the conference, Keith provided tutorials on how these modalities can be utilized in tandem to create a complete treatment protocol. There were also some great giveaways sponsored by all of the involved companies!

HawkGrips always promises exciting promotions and show-specific discounts when you stop by our booth at any conference. For the Combined Sections Meeting this year, our giveaway items included two HGPro Multi-Instruments, an Introductory Set, and tuition to an upcoming Level I course! We also rewarded attendees with a 15% discount on all instruments and sets – our best deal yet!

Were you a registered attendee and forgot to take advantage of our conference discount? Then email HawkGrips Sales & Distribution Manager Val Flack ( today to receive your discount code that’s valid through the end of March.

The 2019 APTA Combined Sections Meeting is scheduled for Jan. 23-26 in Washington, DC. Will it set another attendance record? We look forward to finding out and hope to see you there!

Trista Barish is the director of education for HawkGrips and can be reached at, while Val Flack is the sales & distribution manager for HawkGrips and can be reached at

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