LINKED: Breathing & Postural Control, Parts 1 & 2 (formerly 'If You Can't Breathe You Can't Function')

September 16-18, 2022


8-5:30 PM Friday
8-5:30 PM 

8-2 PM Sunday


$675.00 (Group Discounts Available)


Group Discounts

Groups of 4-6 from the same facility = 5% discount

Groups of 7+ from the same facility = 10% discount

For more information, email

Course Description

This course, developed by Mary Massery, proposes a new definition of “core stability;” redefining it as the dynamic control of trunk pressures to optimize postural stability (balance). Dr. Massery's “soda pop can model” links breathing mechanics to postural control using multi-system interactions. The speaker presents 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. In Part-1, foundational information and quick interventions will be the focus (positioning and ventilatory strategies). In Part-2, the focus shifts to assessing “normal” breathing patterns, and learning neuromotor breathing retraining techniques and manual assistive cough techniques during hands-on labs. Multiple clinical cases will be used to cement the concepts. The course is applicable for any pediatric or adult patient (or therapist) who breathes!

Course Objectives

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

1. Describe how trunk pressures link breathing and postural control using the Soda
Pop Can Model.

2. Describe the multiple, simultaneous roles of the diaphragm as related to breathing, postural control, gastroesophageal reflux, constipation, and venous return.

3. 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.

4. Position patients for optimal physiological and biomechanical support of breathing with simple equipment (towels, pillows, etc.).

5. Use a ventilatory strategy algorithm presented in class to optimally match breathing with movements from bed mobility to athletic endeavors.

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

  1. Use a multi-system approach to evaluating motor impairments.
  2. Identify the variations of “normal” breathing patterns and discuss the efficiencies/inefficiencies for individual patient conditions.
  3. Evaluate need for, and demonstrate, appropriate neuromotor retraining techniques for patients with ineffective breathing/postural control strategies (health or participation deficits).
  4. Participate in a live patient demonstration (if a patient is available) and suggest possible evaluation and treatment ideas based on the course material.
  5. Design a targeted airway clearance program using the principles of mobilization, expectoration, and oral management.
  6. Demonstrate airway clearance techniques, with a heavy emphasis on manual assistive cough techniques, and apply an airway clearance algorithm to specific patient conditions.
  7. Identify thoracic cage/spine restrictions as they pertain to breathing mechanics and postural control (a very brief introduction of chest wall restrictions).
  8. Evaluate need for, and demonstrate, neuromotor retraining techniques to improve breath support for voicing and postural control (eccentrics).
  9. Suggest immediate ways to incorporate the concepts into therapy activities in your clinical setting.

About the Instructor

Patricia (Trish) West-Low, PT, MA, DPT, PCS holds a Bachelor's degree in PT from The University of Scranton, an Advanced Master's Degree from New York University, a Doctoral Degree from Seton Hall University, and is a Board Certified Pediatric Clinical Specialist. She has developed and teaches courses on the topics of Physical Therapy Examination and Treatment of Individuals with Autism, Connective Tissue Mobilization for Pediatric Therapists, and Yoga for Special Populations.

Dr. West-Low has been a teaching assistant in all of Dr. Mary Massery's courses for the past 20 years, and completed a 2-year, invited teaching apprenticeship becoming a Massery certified faculty member in 2018. She teaches across the country for Dr. Massery. Currently Dr. West-Low is a full-time clinician at Children's Specialized in New Jersey, and a student in the Movement Sciences PhD program at Seton Hall University. Trish and her dog Lucy serve as a volunteer therapy dog team.


Part One, Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 (8 Hours)
07:30-08:00 Course Registration & Sign-in/Breakfast
08:00-08:30 Overview of course topics

08:30-10:00 Lecture: Breathing and posture: Part 1 - Pressure control (Soda pop can model)

10:00-10:15 BREAK

10:15-12:00 Mini-Lab: Positioning strategies: What can you do in 90 Seconds or less that has a profound and lasting effect?

12:00-01:00 LUNCH

01:00-02:00 Lecture: Breathing … Part 2 - The diaphragm

02:00-02:10 BREAK

02:10-03:50 Mini-Lab: Ventilatory/movement strategies: Integrating neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, respiratory and sensory systems

03:50-03:55 BREAK

03:55-05:10 Lecture: Breathing … Part 3 - The vocal folds

05:10-05:30 Lecture: Wrap-up and homework


Part Two, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022 (8 Hours)

07:30-08:00 Course Sign-in/Breakfast

08:00-08:30 Review, synthesis & Q&A

08:30-09:45 Lecture/Demo: Chest assessment: Focus on musculoskeletal alignment and breathing patterns

09:45-10:00 BREAK

10:00-11:30 Lab: Assessing breathing patterns and postural implications

11:30-12:30 LUNCH

12:30-01:15 Lecture: Airway clearance: From Sherlock to solution

01:15-02:15 Lab: Facilitating efficient breathing patterns and endurance training: Neuromotor techniques for diaphragm, chest and other breathing patterns

02:15-02:30 BREAK

02:30-04:00 Lab: Facilitating breathing patterns (continued)

04:00-04:30 Lecture/Demo: Brief introduction to rib cage and trunk musculoskeletal restrictions associated with breathing difficulties – Quick Screening!

04:30-05:30 Demo: Patient demonstration (if possible)


Part Two, Sunday, Sept. 18. 2022 (5 Hours)
07:30-08:00 Course Sign-in/Breakfast
08:00-08:30 Review, synthesis & Q&A

08:30-10:00 Lecture: Differential diagnosis (patient demo): “Find the Problem”

10:00-10:15 BREAK

10:15-11:30 Lab: Airway clearance lab: Focus on manual assistive cough techniques

11:30-12:15 LUNCH

12:15-01:30 Lab: Eccentric trunk control: using voice for postural control and vice versa

01:30-02:00 Homework: Putting it all together & Course wrap up



Texas Children's Hospital - West Campus


1st Floor Conference Center, Rooms WH-01A & WH-01B
18200 Katy Freeway
Houston, TX 77094

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Hotel Accommodations

Courtyard Houston I-10/Park Row

18010 Park Row
Houston, TX 77084


Distance .4 miles


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Hampton Inn & Suites I10 West Park Row

18014 Park Row Drive


Distance .4 miles


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For More Information


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Who Should Attend

PTs, PTAs, OTs, OTAs, and SLPs



21 contact hours.