Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In
If You Can’t Breathe,You Can’t Function: Integrating Cardiopulmonary and Postural Control Strategies
Register Tell a Friend About This EventTell a Friend
If You Can’t Breathe,You Can’t Function: Integrating Cardiopulmonary and Postural Control Strategies

 Export to Your Calendar 8/3/2018 to 8/5/2018
When: August 3-5, 2018
Where: Samuel Merritt University
400 Hawthorne Avenue
Health Education Center, Betchel Room
Oakland, CA  94609
United States
Presenter: Mary Massery PT, DPT, DSc
Contact: Rita Pierson
(916) 929-2782 x105

Online registration is available until: 8/1/2018
« Go to Upcoming Event List  

Course Description

This course will challenge the practitioner to make a paradigm shift: connecting breathing mechanics and postural control with management of trunk pressures. Through her model of postural control (Soda Pop Can Model), the speaker will link breathing mechanics with motor and physiologic behaviors (a multi-system perspective). She will present novel research demonstrating the role of vocal folds as postural stabilizers, extending the concept of “core stability” from the vocal folds on the top of the trunk to the pelvic floor on the bottom. Numerous interventions will be presented that use positioning and ventilatory strategies to optimize motor performance. Neuromotor breathing retraining techniques and manual assistive cough techniques will be the focus of treatment labs. Multiple patient cases will be presented throughout the course. The emphasis of the course will be on developing practical, quick clinical solutions for pediatric and adult patients in all practice settings.


**The three-day lecture/lab course is ideal for physical therapists. PTAs are welcome to attend the three-day course with their supervising PT to participate in the hands-on portion. The one-day lecture portion is open to all.


Course Objectives

At the conclusion of Day 1, participants should be able to:

  • Describe how trunk pressures link breathing and postural control using the Soda Pop Can Model.
  • Describe the multiple, simultaneous roles of the diaphragm as related to breathing, postural control, gastroesophageal reflux, constipation, and venous return.
  • Demonstrate the role of the vocal folds in normal postural stability responses (balance) and make the case for using speaking valves for patients with tracheostomies.
  • Contrast normal infant chest wall development to those with impaired breathing mechanics.
  • Position patients for optimal physiological and biomechanical support of breathing with simple equipment (towels, pillows, etc.).


At the conclusion of Days 2- 3, participants should be able to:

  • Perform a multi-system (physical and physiologic) evaluation of motor impairments.
  • Identify the variations of “normal” breathing patterns and discuss the efficiencies/inefficiencies for individual patient conditions.
  • Evaluate need for, and demonstrate, appropriate neuromotor retraining techniques for patients with ineffective breathing/postural control strategies (health or participation deficits).
  • Participate in a live patient demonstration (if a patient is available) and suggest possible evaluation and treatment ideas based on the course material.
  • Design a targeted airway clearance program using the principles of mobilization, expectoration and oral management.
  • Demonstrate airway clearance techniques, with a heavy emphasis on manual assistive cough techniques, and apply an airway clearance algorithm to specific patients.
  • Identify thoracic cage/spine restrictions as they pertain to breathing mechanics and postural control (a very brief introduction musculoskeletal issues).
  • Evaluate need for, and demonstrate, neuromotor retraining techniques to improve breath support for voicing.
  • Suggest means for incorporating the course material into therapy activities in your clinical setting immediately.



Friday (7.5 Contact Hours)                                          Open Enrollment (130 people)


8:00 - 8:30 am

Registration and coffee

8:30 - 10:30

Lecture: Breathing and posture: Part 1 - Pressure control (Soda pop model)

10:30 - 10:45


10:45 - 12:00

Lecture: Breathing and posture: Part 2 - The diaphragm

12:00 - 1:00


1:00 - 2:00

Lecture: Breathing and posture: Part 3 - The vocal folds

2:00 - 2:30

Lecture: Normal and abnormal chest wall development and function

2:30 - 2:45


2:45 - 4:00

Mini-lab: Positioning strategies: What can you do in 90 Seconds or less that has a profound and lasting effect?

4:00 - 5:30 pm

Mini-lab: Ventilatory strategies: Integrating neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, respiratory and sensory systems


Saturday (7.5 Contact Hours)                                      Limited Enrollment (50 people)


8:00 - 8:30 am


8:30 - 10:00

Lecture/Demonstration: Chest assessment: Focus on musculoskeletal alignment and breathing patterns

10:00 - 10:15


10:15 - 12:00

Lab: Assessing breathing patterns and postural implications

12:00 - 1:00


1:00 - 1:30

Lab: Chest assessment (continued)

1:30 - 2:30

Lab: Facilitating efficient breathing patterns and endurance training: Neuromotor techniques for diaphragm, chest and other breathing patterns

2:30 - 2:45


2:45 - 4:45

Lab: Facilitating breathing patterns (continued)

4:45 - 5:30 pm

Patient demonstration (if possible)


Sunday (5.5 Contact Hours)                                        Limited Enrollment (50 people)


8:00 - 8:30 am


8:30 – 9:00

Discussion: recap patient demonstration using "Find the Problem" chart

9:00 – 10:00

Lecture: Airway clearance: From Sherlock to solution

10:00 - 10:15


10:15 – 12:00

Lab: Airway clearance: Focus on manual assistive cough techniques

12:00 - 12:45


12:45 – 1:30

Mini-lab: Brief introduction to musculoskeletal restrictions of thoracic spine / rib cage that impair breathing mechanics (or vice versa)

1:30 – 2:30

Lab: Enhancing breath support for phonation

2:30 - 3:00 pm

Lab: Group problem solving: Putting it all together



Mary Massery, PT, DPT, DSc received her BS in Physical Therapy from Northwestern University in 1977, her DPT from the University of the Pacific in 2004 and her DSc from Rocky Mountain University in 2011. Her publications and interests focus on linking motor behaviors to breathing and/or postural mechanics in both pediatric and adult patient populations.

Dr. Massery has been invited to give over 800 professional presentations in 49 US states, 9 Canadian provinces, and 15 countries worldwide, including more than 100 presentations for the American Physical Therapy Association, and a full-day post-conference program at the World Congress of Physical Therapy in Singapore. Mary has delivered keynote and major addresses on topics such as cystic fibrosis and posture, neuropulmonary deficits, pectus excavatum (chest deformities), and connections between posture & breathing.

Mary has received national awards from the APTA, including its highest clinical award, The Florence Kendall Practice Award, honoring “one’s outstanding and enduring contributions to the practice of physical therapy." She has been honored as Outstanding Alumnus of the Year by each of her 3 alma maters. And in 2016, she was awarded Northwestern University’s Alumnae Research Achievement Award. Mary continues to maintain a private practice in Chicago, specializing in breathing and postural dysfunction.



20.5 contact hours or 2.5 CEUs

Instruction Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Format: Lecture and hands-on lab (Student to faculty ratio 16:1)
Target Audience: Physical Therapists.



Samuel Merritt University – Health Education Center, Betchel Room
400 Hawthorne Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609


Registration received by July 20, 2018

Lecture & Lab Fees (Limited Availability, Days 1-3)

$800 APTA  PT members
$1,200 Non-members


Lecture Only (Day 1 only)

$400 APTA PT members

$640 Non-members

$150 APTA Student members

$200 Student Non-members (please call CPTA office to register)

Add $100 for late registration.


All cancellation requests must be received in writing – no exceptions. A full refund, less 20% service fee, if cancellation is received 14 days prior to the start of the course. No refunds after July 20, 2018.

Course Requirements

Required attire for labs: ladies - tank tops, sports bras, etc. Everyone - loose, comfortable pants such as yoga pants, sweat pants, etc. Please consider dressing in layers as each person has a different comfort level when the air conditioning is on.

Anatomy books: Participants are encouraged to bring their favorite anatomy book to help visualize the presentations.

Suggested pre-readings for the course: A variety of pre-readings are available. See Mary’s publications on her website:

Long hair: Hair clips or pony tail bands are needed for long hair in labs.

Linens: All registrants are asked to bring a bath towel each day. Even the Friday group will be practicing techniques and will need a towel! Saturday and Sunday registrants need to bring a padded mat and a pillow as they will be laying on the floor during labs, practicing the techniques



Garage parking in Merritt is $18 per day (see campus map).


Oakland Marriott City Center – 1001 Broadway, Oakland, CA
Courtyard Oakland Downtown – 988 Broadway, Oakland, CA
Water Front Hotel, a Joie de Vivre hotel – 10 Washington Street, Oakland, CA
Four Points Sheraton San Francisco Bay Bridge – 1603 Powell Street, Emeryville, CA
Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge – 1800 Powell Street, Emeryville, CA
Hyatt House Emeryville – 5800 Shellmound Way, Emeryville, CA
Courtyard Oakland Emeryville – 5555 Shellmound Street, Emeryville, CA
Doubletree by Hilton – 200 Marina Boulevard, Berkeley, CA

Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal