1. Larsen, Deborah S. PT, PhD
  2. President, Neurology Section

Article Content

The Board of Directors of the Neurology Section of the APTA is proposing to change the name of the Section to the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy, APTA. In the past 2 years, the Geriatrics Section and the Section on Electrophysiology and Wound Management have both transitioned to the Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy and the Academy of Clinical Electrophysiology and Wound Management (ACEWM). Although many sections are currently in discussions about doing so, the Neurology Section Board of Directors believes that the time is right to make this change. Here is a brief rationale and the answers to common questions that are expected about this proposed change.



In 2012, the APTA conducted a governance review that resulted in our new vision: "transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience"1 and multiple other recommendations, including the reorganization of the sections into academies, councils, and communities. Although that reorganization met with considerable resistance, the idea of renaming sections as academies led to lengthy discussion within the section presidents' meetings and has been much more enthusiastically embraced with many sections indicating an interest in pursuing this name change.



In consideration of title, we have looked at both council and academy as potential name choices. In consideration of these 2 proposed titles, we have examined the definition of these 2 terms. A council, as defined by is "a body of persons specially designated or selected to act in an advisory, administrative or legislative capacity."2 The title of "council" has been endorsed by the former Academic Administrator's Special Interest Group, which renamed itself the American Council on Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT) in 2013. This seems appropriate as the ACAPT serves to define the standards of physical therapy education.3


In contrast, academy is defined as both "an association or institution for the advancement of art, literature or science" and "a group of authorities and leaders in a field of scholarship ... who are often permitted to dictate standards, prescribe methods, and criticize new ideas."4 On the basis of these 2 definitions and in alignment with our Geriatric and ACEWM colleagues, we propose to replace "section" with "academy." We are a group of leaders and authorities, both established and emerging, in the field of neurologic physical therapy practice education, and research; we help to determine the standards and methods of that practice and to provide a forum for the evaluation of new research that applies to our field; and we serve to protect and develop the science of neurologic physical therapy practice. Thus, the title of academy fits perfectly with the way in which we function.


In addition, this also aligns us with our colleagues in medicine, who are represented by the American Academy of Neurology and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and nursing, who has the American Academy of Nursing. Notably, there is likely no other area of practice that functions in a more interdisciplinary arena than neurology. Thus, having an organization with a title that is recognized by our medicine and nursing colleagues should facilitate the discourse among these professional groups.


Since the Section was first approved in 1977, it has had a reputation for leadership and innovation in education, research, and practice pertaining to neurologic conditions but also within the APTA. Currently, we are one of the fastest-growing sections with membership exceeding 5500. We wish to take this opportunity to continue that leadership by making this name transition, which we believe more clearly defines who we are to our other health care colleagues and to the patients that we serve.



To change our name, it is first necessary to obtain approval from our membership, followed by approval from the other sections of the APTA and ultimately from the APTA Board of Directors. One reason for this Perspective is to notify our membership of this proposed change and encourage feedback to the section leadership; we will also be including information in our e-newsletter with a link to provide feedback, during the months of November to January. To finalize this change, we must change our articles of incorporation and our bylaws to reflect the new name. Ultimately we will need to change our logo, website, and all printed and online materials related to the section.



The costs of the change are relatively minor but include a small fee to change our articles of incorporation ($30) and hiring a temporary person to change the online materials and website (estimated between $5000 and $10,000). The APTA art department will create a new logo at no cost. These costs are well within our 2016 budget.



We hope this proposed change will be met with enthusiasm from our members, embracing the title Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy. However, we also want to know of any concerns or questions that our members might have, so we will be soliciting your input through multiple e-newsletter postings, which will provide a link for your feedback. If the membership feedback supports us moving forward, we will hold a vote at our business meeting at the Combined Sections Meeting in February.




1. Vision Statement for the Physical Therapy Profession and Guiding Principles to Achieve the Vision. Accessed October, 19, 2015. [Context Link]


2. Accessed October, 19, 2015. [Context Link]


3. Accessed October 19, 2015. [Context Link]


4. Accessed October 19, 2015. [Context Link]