Welcome to conference 2019! Bookings are open now!
Contact Information
  • Name: Education Department
  • Tel: 01604 684965
  • Email us


Early bird rates are available now until Friday 1st February with prices starting from £195 for Friday/Saturday or £310 for both days. Book online for a £10 reduction on these rates.

Book your place between these dates and be entered into our competition to win 2018 conference speaker, Michael Shacklock's signed book, Biomechanics of the Nervous system.

What to expect in 2019

Besides our line-up of great speakers from backgrounds in both hands on and hands off treatments, inlcuding Mary O'Keeffe, Tim Watson and Joanne Elphinston, we also want to make conference an engaging experience outside of the lecture theatre. We brought you selfie frames and Demo Hub at conference 2018 and these will be returning again following their success.

There will be interactive polls for you to take part in, prize draws and competitions lead by our vast trade exhibition and an evening event that will let you party the night away on Friday. 

Our conference will take place next year on a Friday and Saturday which we are really excited about. We will therefore be holding an exhibition launch on Friday morning at 10.35am to warmly introduce you to all of the exhibitors who have kindly attended. Without our exhibitors, we would not be able to provide conference at the great value that we do so please do take the time to visit them. This is when our Demo Hub event will take place, which will give you an indepth look at some of the products and offers our exhibitors have available for you across the weekend.

Following the close of our AGM at 5pm, we will hold a drinks reception with our exhibitors to unwind after a day of informative lectures. This event will be open to the public so if you know you cannot attend the day lectures, this is a great opportunity to still come and meet the exhibitors and speakers, especially if you're local to the area! We have always prided ourselves on the great networking opportunity our conference offers to physios, especially sole practitioners, so do come and join us and experience the great atmosphere.

Our Physio First team will once again be available to discuss all things Quality Assured on our Research and Development stand; find out more about the benefits you might be missing out on at our membership stand, and get up close and personal with our editorial team to discuss writing for our In Touch journal or look through our extensive archive of publications.

Not only will you get access to all of the above but the EMCC and Orchard Hotel is a great central location to so many cities and areas, and it's located in a stunning orchard setting. So even when you need a break from all the amazing nuggets you're getting from the speakers, you can have a walk (or maybe even a light jog?) around the wonderful spring greenery.

We're hoping 2019 is going to be an even bigger event and we hope to see so many of you there to experience the debate of...

Hands On, Hands Off: what is the evidence?

Confirmed speaker line-up

Research Assistant Professor

Antonio Stecco

Dr. Antonio Stecco is a graduate in Medicine and Surgery, and specialized in Physics Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Padua, Italy. His areas of prevalent scientific and clinical interest are anatomy of the fascia corporis via dissections and histological studies, including immunohistochemical and molecular biology; study and clinical application of hyaluronic acid; and myofascial syndrome. Following the techniques developed by his father, Luigi Stecco, PT, Dr. Stecco co-authored with his sister, Carla Stecco, MD Fascial Manipulation for Musculoskeletal Pain (Piccin, 2004). He is the author of more than twelve articles published in international journals.

Antonio is currently a Research Assistant Professor at RUSK Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in New York City, USA.

Dr Stecco will present two lectures as part of our 2019 annual conference, including:

Physiopathology of deep fascia

By the end of this session delegates will be able to:

  • List the types of human fascia and understand the role of fascia in nociceptive pain.
  • Understand the role of deep fascia
  • Delegates will be able to differentiate nociceptive pain from inflammatory pain



How does this lecture affect your ability to become QAP?

  • Develop effective treatment for myofascial pain syndrome and musculoskeletal disorders.

Areas for further reading

  1. Stecco A, Stern R, Fantoni I, De Caro R, Stecco C. “Fascial Disorders: Implications for Treatmen”. PM R. 2015 Jun 14. pii: S1934-1482(15)00292-0.
  2. Mary K. Cowman, Tannin Schmidt, Preeti Raghavan, Antonio Stecco, Viscoelastic Properties of Hyaluronan in Physiological Conditions F1000 Research Aug 2015
  3. Stecco A, Gesi M, Stecco C, Stern R. "Fascial components of the myofascial pain syndrome” Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2013 Aug;17(8):352.

Fascial Manipulation

By the end of this session, delegates will be able to:

  • Understand your manual skills with a new innovative method
  • Evaluate the quality of the deep fascia through palpatory verification and treat appropriate the

    points (Centers of Coordination) restoring the tissue sliding.


Areas for further reading:

Branchini Mirco, Del Corso Massimiliano, Cotti Andrea, Diana Roberto, Cornale Luigi, Sudanese Alessandra; Inter and intra operator reliability of motor and palpatory evaluation in Fascial Manipulation ®; JOSPT, under revision

Simone Brandolini, Giacomo Lugaresi, Antonio Santagata, Andrea Ermolao, Marco Ermolao, Aurelie Marchand, Antonio Stecco; Sport Injury Prevention in individuals with Chronic Ankle Instability: Fascial Manipulation vs control group randomized controlled trial. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2018 accepted

Andrew Creighton, Antonio Stecco, Amy Whitelaw, Daniel Probst, Devyani Hunt, Fascial Manipulation Method as a Treatment for Pain, Atrophy and Skin Depigmentation after Pes Anserine Bursa Corticosteroid Injection; J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2018 accepted

Harper B, Jagger K, Aron A, Steinbeck L, Stecco A. A commentary review of the cost effectiveness of manual therapies for neck and low back pain. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2017 Jul;21(3):684-691

Busato M, Quagliati C, Magri L, Filippi A, Sanna A, Branchini M, Marchand AM, Stecco A. Fascial Manipulation Associated With Standard Care Compared to Only Standard Postsurgical Care for Total Hip Arthroplasty: A Randomized Controlled Trial. PM R. 2016 Dec;8(12):1142-1150.

Vilma Ćosić, Julie Ann Day, Pietro Iogna, Antonio Stecco, Fascial Manipulation® method applied to Pubescent Postural Hyperkyphosis: a pilot study.  J Bodyw Mov Ther. 01/2013





Deborah Falla

Deborah Falla is Chair in Rehabilitation Science and Physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham, UK and is the Director of the Centre of Precision Rehabilitation for Spinal Pain (CPR Spine). Her research focus is on optimizing the management of musculoskeletal disorders with a particular interest in spinal pain. She has published over 170 papers in international, peer-reviewed journals, more than 200 conference papers/abstracts including over 30 invited/keynote lectures and has received several recognitions and awards for her work including the German Pain Research Prize in 2014, the George J. Davies - James A. Gould Excellence in Clinical Inquiry Award in 2009 and the Delsys Prize for Electromyography Innovation in 2004. Professor Falla is an author of three books including the latest published in 2018 entitled “Management of neck pain disorders: a research informed approach” (Elsevier). Professor Falla acts as an Associate Editor for Musculoskeletal Science & Practice, the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology and Transactions on Neural Systems & Rehabilitation Engineering. Since 2016, she is President of the International Society of Electrophysiology and Kinesiology (ISEK).

Deborah last spoke at our 2015 Physio First conference with a highly regarded lecture on Reogranised sensorimotor control in neck pain and the benefits of training. We are delighted that she will be returning in 2019.

Deborah will be speaking on:

New insights into spinal muscle control in people with spinal pain revealed with high-density surface electromyography

Lecture aims

  • To appreciate the advantage of high-density surface electromyography  (EMG) investigations over classic EMG approaches
  • To appreciate the normal variability and non-uniformity of spinal muscle activity and how this is modified in people with spinal pain
  • To consider novel exercise approaches for people with back and neck pain based on the possibilities offered by high-density surface EMG

Lecture aims

To present an overview of studies utilising high-density EMG to investigate the normal control of spinal muscles and how neuromuscular control is modified in the presence of back and neck pain.

Skills gained

Participants will learn new evidence of neuromuscular adaptions in people with low back pain and neck pain and how these findings have translated into novel exercises for people with spinal pain.

Areas for further reading

  • Falla D, Hodges PW.
  • Individualized Exercise Interventions for Spinal Pain. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2017 Apr;45(2):105-115
  • Falla D, Cescon C, Lindstroem R, Barbero M.
  • Muscle Pain Induces a Shift of the Spatial Distribution of Upper Trapezius Muscle Activity During a Repetitive Task: A Mechanism for Perpetuation of Pain With Repetitive Activity? Clin J Pain. 2017 Nov;33(11):1006-1013.
  • Falla D, Gizzi L, Tschapek M, Erlenwein J, Petzke F.
  • Reduced task-induced variations in the distribution of activity across back muscle regions in individuals with low back pain. Pain. 2014 May;155(5):944-53
How does this lecture support your journey towards being, or continuing to be, a Quality Assured Practitioner?
This lecture will consider the relevant clinical assessment findings and exercise responses which could be evaluated clinically.


Joanne Elphinston

Joanne Elphinston is a performance consultant, clinician and founder JEMS®, an internationally taught, integrated movement-based system developed to support practitioners working in diverse rehabilitation, performance and health contexts.

As a private practitioner, Joanne’s  interests lie in complex and chronic presentations, and as a performance consultant, Joanne supports professional dancers, athletes and musicians to achieve increased physical freedom and technical expression. Joanne has worked extensively with a wide range of national and international sports and performing arts organisations, including the British Olympic Association, the Football Association (FA), the National Dance Company of Wales, and BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

The second edition of Joanne’s “Stability, Sport and Performance Movement” was released in 2013. Her forthcoming book, The Power and the Grace, is scheduled for release in 2019.

Joanne will be speaking on:

The Future In Your Hands: Clinical Reasoning, Common Sense and Confidence

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this session delegates will be able to:

 ·     Embrace the breadth of what “hands-on” might represent in a clinical setting.

  • Consider the what, why and when of mobilisation through clinical examples.
  • Appreciate the need for both critical evaluation and broader consideration when considering the evidence base.
  • Accept the challenge to individualise clinical decision making in the treatment room with confidence.

Lecture aims:

This lecture proposes that by drawing the base metal of our treatments from the catalogue of available evidence, forging it in clinical reasoning, and above all, tempering it in humanity, practitioners can meet the individual and unique needs of each patient with respect and skill.


Postdoctoral Fellow, Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney

Mary O'Keeffe

Mary O’Keeffe is a physiotherapist and European Union Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellow at Musculoskeletal Health Sydney, The University of Sydney. Mary’s fellowship involves two years in the University of Sydney, a three month secondment to EFIC in Brussels in Belgium, and 9 months in the University of Limerick in Ireland. Mary was awarded her PhD in 2017 in the University of Limerick. Her PhD research examined whether tailoring multidimensional rehabilitation to the individual chronic low back pain patient enhances effectiveness. Mary is very passionate about public engagement and communicating evidence-based information about low back pain through radio, newspapers and social media. Examples include All you ever need to know about back pain (RTE News Ireland), 10 myths about back pain and how to cope when it strikes, 15 things you didn’t know about back pain, How to move on from back pain, How your sleep patterns could be contributing to your back pain (Irish Independent newspaper). Mary has published 35 papers relating to low back pain and other musculoskeletal pain conditions. Mary is part of the Wiser Healthcare Collaboration to prevent overdiagnosis and overtreatment of musculoskeletal conditions and her current postdoctoral research areas are communication with consumers and examining the effect of nudging on clinical testing and treatment behaviours

Mary's lecture will be split across Friday and Saturday so please be aware of this if you are only attending for one day of the conference.

Multidimensional framework for assessing and treating persistent low back pain: assessing and identifying (Friday) & Multidimensional framework for assessing and treating persistent low back pain: application of the techniques (Saturday)

Learning outcomes include:

  • Understand the multidimensional nature of low back pain
  • Understand the importance of getting the first person story of pain
  • Identify and address modifiable barriers to recovery from low back pain
  • Understand the importance of the therapeutic alliance

Lecture aims

  • To display the multidimensional nature of pain
  • Explain the multiple factors that can be contributing to pain
  • To highlight the importance of getting the first person experience of pain
  • To display the importance of the language and words we use
  • To display the importance of tailoring our assessment and treatment approach to the needs of the individual.
Skills gained
  • A multidimensional understanding of pain
  • Get the person’s first person experience of pain
  • Identify and address psychosocial factors
  • Good communication skills
Practical skills

After this lecture, clinicians will be able to apply all of the principles discussed to help improve their assessment and treatment of low back pain. It will improve their confidence in identifying and addressing psychosocial factors.

Areas for further reading

Green, D., et al. (2018). "Clinical course and prognostic factors across different musculoskeletal pain sites: A secondary analysis of individual patient data from randomised clinical trials." European Journal of Pain.

Hartvigsen, J., et al. (2018). "What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention." The Lancet 391(10137): 2356-2367.

Foster, N. E., et al. (2018). "Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising

directions." The Lancet 391(10137): 2368-2383.

Buchbinder, R., et al. (2018). "Low back pain: a call for action." The Lancet 391(10137): 2384-2388.

O’Sullivan PB, Caneiro JP, O’Keeffe M, Smith A, Dankaerts W, Fersum K, O’Sullivan K. Cognitive functional therapy: an integrated behavioral approach for the targeted management of disabling low back pain. Physical therapy. 2018 Apr 16;98(5):408-23.

O'Sullivan, P., et al. (2016). "Unraveling the Complexity of Low Back Pain." J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 46(11): 932-937.

O'Keeffe M, Purtill H, Kennedy N, et al

Individualised cognitive functional therapy compared with a combined exercise and pain education class for patients with non-specific chronic low back pain: study protocol for a multicentre randomised controlled trial

BMJ Open 2015;5:e007156. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-007156

Synnott, A., et al. (2015). "Physiotherapists may stigmatise or feel unprepared to treat people with low back pain and psychosocial factors that influence recovery: a systematic review." Journal of Physiotherapy 61(2): 68-76.

How will this support you in becoming or continuing to be QAP?
This lecture will contribute to the upskilling of clinicians in the assessment and treatment of low back pain. This should boost their clinical performance and outcomes.


Associate Professor - Department of Allied Health Sciences

Mick Thacker

Mick Qualified as a physiotherapist from West Middlesex University Hospital School of physiotherapy and worked as a specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapist at several London teaching hospitals. He undertook and passed with distinction advanced training in manual therapy before completing a Master’s degree at University College London (with distinction). Mick completed his PhD at King’s under the supervision of Profs Pat Wall and Steve McMahon, his thesis focused on neuro-immune interactions and pain; more specifically the role of the chemokine CCL2 as a key mediator of neuropathic pain. He held lecturing posts at Brunel University and St Georges Medical School before moving to King’s where Mick rewrote and led the award winning MSc Pain; Science and Society programme. He is currently Associate Professor and Professional Lead for Physiotherapy at London South Bank University. He is involved with inter-professional learning initiatives for pain both at the university and in the wider academic arena, he was invited to join curriculum development team of the International Association for the Study of Pain. Mick received a fellowship of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in November 2011, for his outstanding contribution to the understanding and education of pain science within the profession and promotion of his profession within the wider scientific community.


Associate Professor at University of Nottingham

Roger Kerry

Roger Kerry is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham, UK.  He is a Chartered Physiotherapist, and an honorary Fellow of the UK’s Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists.  His main clinical research interests have been in adverse events and physiotherapy interventions of the head and neck, particularly on the causal nature of the interventions. Roger is a member of several international working groups related to best practice for the management of head and neck pain. Roger is also undertaking research activity in the Philosophy of Science, investigating the nature of causation in evidence-based healthcare, and this was the focus of his PhD. He is well- published in these areas and has been an invited speaker at numerous international conferences. Roger has won several teaching awards, including two prestigious Lord Dearing Awards for Teaching & Learning following his work on the use of social media in education.

Roger's lecture is titled,

Hands On, Hands Off: Is that even a thing?

By the end of this session delegates will be able to:

  • Understand a broader dialogue about evidence-based physiotherapy practice in relation to clinical decision-making
  • Evaluate their own clinical reasoning within a multi-dimensional evidence-based framework
  • Appreciate the strengths and limitations of a range of evidence sources

This lecture aims to provide a critical analysis of the “hand on, hands off” debate, which making sense of the best of the evidence which should be used to inform clinical decision-making.

Skills gained

  • Critical evaluation of their own practice, and the complex and multi-sourced evidence-base.
  • Better informed clinical decision making for people with musculo-skeletal dysfunction.
Practical application
Ability to better apply evidence-informed reasoning to their own clinical practice
Further learning/reading

Jones M, Rivett D. 2019 Clinical Reasoning in Musculoskeletal Practice, 2nd Edition, Elsevier Hardcover ISBN: 9780702059766

How does this lecture support your journey towards being, or continuing to be, a Quality Assured Practitioner?

Enhanced critical evaluation of evidence and clinical decision making will optimise patient outcomes.



Tim Watson

Tim trained as a physiotherapist in London, UK, qualifying in 1979. After spending some years in the National Health Service (mainly musculoskeletal orthopaedics and rheumatology), and with various sports clubs and National Teams, he took up a lecturing role at West Middlesex Hospital, then Brunel University and now at the University of Hertfordshire. He undertook a degree in Biomedical Sciences followed by a PhD from the Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Surrey in 1994. His PhD thesis was ‘The Bioelectric Correlates of Musculoskeletal Injury and Repair’.

He researches in several fields associated primarily with electrotherapy and tissue repair and is currently Professor of Physiotherapy, School of Health & Emergency Professions at the University of Hertfordshire. He has published many papers, is editor of a core text on electrotherapy and has contributed several chapters to other edited texts. He is a reviewer for more than 25 journals and grant authorities and has presented more than 850 professional lectures, short courses and conference papers.

Tim's lecture is titled:

Should Electrophysical Modalities continue to be used in modern physiotherapy practice? An Evidence Based Consideration

Learning outcomes include:

  • Identify the relationship between pure and applied research
  • Consider Electrophysical Modalities as a component of integrated therapy practice
  • Employ existing and new evidence into a clinical decision making framework

Lecture aims

The session aims to consider both the available evidence for the use of Electrophysical Agents (EPA’s) as an integral part of physiotherapy treatment packages, how this integration might be best achieved and argues that the identification of EPA’s as a ‘passive’ intervention does not necessarily reflect the evidence supporting their use in modern therapy practice.

This session should be attended by any physiotherapists who employ or is conserving the use of electrophysical modalities into their practice



Ticket prices

Prices have been frozen since 2016 to ensure you get the best available rate for your conference ticket. Full conference tickets start at £340 or £225 for one day. Bookings are open until Friday 15th March.

Bringing your associates/friends?

Receive a 10% discount for booking three people together which is an additional saving of over £30 per person. In order to receive your discount, please call our office (01604 684 968) or email us as this discount is not currently available online. This discount is also available to non-members!

How do I receive the 10% discount?

The multiple person discount can be used by both members and non-members for booking full conference (Friday and Saturday).

In order to receive this discount you will need to call 01604 684 965 or alternatively complete an online form and send this to education@physiofirst.org.uk.

What if there is more than three of us?

The discount is applicable to three people booking together only. The three people within the discount do not need to be colleagues of the same practice.

I am a member and want to book three associates who are not members, can I still have the discount?

Yes, Physio First will honour the online discounted rate for the member and the non-member bookings will be processed collectively with a 10% discount. The same applies for a non-member booking three members. All of those on the booking will either need to be all members or all non-members as unfortunately this cannot be a mixed discount.

Prices are as follows:


Attending for the first time or want to bring an associate with you?

Introducing for 2019 only, a discount for those who have never attended our annual conferences before can attend for 25% off their booking. Full conference tickets are £210. Attend yourself as a first timer, or bring your associate for one day for only £124. This discount is not available online - please call 01604 684 965 or email us to book a place.

Friday night buffet

Join us on Friday night for a hot two course buffet meal followed by an energetic set from Lizy and the Crescendos in the EMCC and dance the night away!

Tickets are £25 per person - bookings are on sale now. Visit our official Friday night page for more information

Event Timetable

Time Topic
08:00 - 08:40 Registration
08:45 - 10:35 Lectures
10:35 - 11:20 Refreshments and Demo Hub
11:20 - 12:05 Lectures
13:55 - 15:30 Lectures resume
16:05 - 16:30 Physio First AGM
Time Topic
08:00 - 08:50 Registration and exhibition
08:55 - 10:35 Lectures
11:10 - 11:55 Lectures
14:00 - 15:35 Lectures resume

Venue Information

East Midlands Conference Centre

EMCC, University Park, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG7 2RJ