Student Scholar Program at Louisiana Tech Connects Parkinson’s Patients to Resources

Student Scholar Program at Louisiana Tech Connects Parkinson’s Patients to Resources
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Through Louisiana Tech University‘s (LTU) Student Scholar program, participants are both learning and teaching others about Parkinson’s disease (PD) and available support.

Lauren Tompkins is one of two students currently in the program at LTU’s Parkinson Resource Center (PRC), which aims to promote a healthy PD community by connecting people, programs, ideas and resources. A sophomore nursing student, Tompkins works with the area patient community.

“We’re just trying to get resources to the community and to people in the area with Parkinson’s,” Tompkins said in a press release.

The program gives students hands-on experience caring for those with the progressive disorder, which affects seven to 10 million individuals globally.

“We want to impact those who will be our future nurses caring for people with Parkinson’s disease,” said Donna Hood, who, along with fellow LTU professor Tara Haskins, directed the PRC’s formation. “What we found is folks with Parkinson’s disease are very often hungry for resources. Our students have been great about helping to put those resources into the hands of the people who reach out to us.”

The students spend time learning as much as possible about resources specific to the complex condition that affects each patient differently. The program’s PRC office abounds with educational books, pamphlets and other materials.

“It starts with education,” Hood said. “If they’re going to connect folks with Parkinson’s to resources, they need to know the resources. They would go in and spend a couple of hours a week listening to webinars, reading and reviewing.”

Near the PRC is the university’s Lambright Sports and Wellness Center, where Parkinson’s-related activities such as Rock Steady Boxing take place. Exercise is important for PD patients because it helps maintain balance, mobility and the ability to perform daily routines. Student Scholar participants volunteer with Rock Steady Boxing, a program that uses a non-contact boxing-based fitness curriculum to help slow Parkinson’s and enable better disease symptom management. The PRC also has launched a PD dance program.

“More and more people are affected by [Parkinson’s] than we realize,”  Tompkins said. “It’s not really taught that much in other schools. It’s important for nursing students and biology students, speech pathology students and kinesiology students just to get a little insight about the disease so they know what to expect and what to tell patients.”

Hood said many area PD patients are in need of resources, and that the Student Scholar program and other PRC efforts are helping to remedy that.

“They don’t have ready access right now, but through Louisiana Tech and our collaborative effort, we can really grow those resources, and we can see that happening,” she said.

Mary M. Chapman began her professional career at United Press International, running both print and broadcast desks. She then became a Michigan correspondent for what is now Bloomberg BNA, where she mainly covered the automotive industry plus legal, tax and regulatory issues. A member of the Automotive Press Association and one of a relatively small number of women on the car beat, Chapman has discussed the automotive industry multiple times of National Public Radio, and in 2014 was selected as an honorary judge at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. She has written for numerous national outlets including Time, People, Al-Jazeera America, Fortune, Daily Beast, MSN.com, Newsweek, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The winner of the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding reporting, Chapman has had dozens of articles in The New York Times, including two on the coveted front page. She has completed a manuscript about centenarian car enthusiast Margaret Dunning, titled “Belle of the Concours.”
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Ana holds a PhD in Immunology from the University of Lisbon and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) in Lisbon, Portugal. She graduated with a BSc in Genetics from the University of Newcastle and received a Masters in Biomolecular Archaeology from the University of Manchester, England. After leaving the lab to pursue a career in Science Communication, she served as the Director of Science Communication at iMM.
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Mary M. Chapman began her professional career at United Press International, running both print and broadcast desks. She then became a Michigan correspondent for what is now Bloomberg BNA, where she mainly covered the automotive industry plus legal, tax and regulatory issues. A member of the Automotive Press Association and one of a relatively small number of women on the car beat, Chapman has discussed the automotive industry multiple times of National Public Radio, and in 2014 was selected as an honorary judge at the prestigious Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. She has written for numerous national outlets including Time, People, Al-Jazeera America, Fortune, Daily Beast, MSN.com, Newsweek, The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The winner of the Society of Professional Journalists award for outstanding reporting, Chapman has had dozens of articles in The New York Times, including two on the coveted front page. She has completed a manuscript about centenarian car enthusiast Margaret Dunning, titled “Belle of the Concours.”
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