Parkinson’s Foundation Recognizes Nurses, Physical Therapists

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by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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The Parkinson’s Foundation announced six winners of this year’s Nurse Faculty Award and Physical Therapy Faculty Award.

Each winner receives up to $10,000 to support projects that might better the lives of those with Parkinson’s disease.

The four physical therapists are graduates of the foundation’s Physical Therapy Faculty Program and the two nurses are graduates of its accredited Edmond J. Safra Visiting Nurse Faculty Program, both designed to provide additional training and support to faculty educators with the best practices and most updated information about Parkinson’s disease.

“Recognizing how essential nurses and physical therapists are in the care of people with PD, the Parkinson’s Foundation has been diligent in bolstering the healthcare teams that care for the PD community,” John L. Lehr, president and CEO of Parkinson’s Foundation, said in a press release. “These awards support exceptional professionals in the development of projects that enhance Parkinson’s care.”

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Anne Marie Dupre, is one of the physical therapy award recipients. A doctor of physical therapy and assistant director of Clinical Education at the University of Rhode Island, her project includes weekly Parkinson’s exercise groups sessions, which will be delivered by supervised physical therapy students. The aim is to assess the student’s learning about Parkinson’s and potential improvements to patients.

A clinical associate professor at the University of South Carolina’s Physical Therapy program, Alicia Flach, will use her award to expand an ongoing program — Parkinson’s Disease.Resources.Education.Vitality.+ (PD REV+) —  to improve the South Carolina Parkinson’s community’s access to exercise opportunities.

“This funding allows us to expand our impact and build sustainability to the established PD.R.E.V.+ program that brings education and exercise opportunities to the South Carolina PD community,” Flach said. “The program will now be able to involve and better equip physical therapy students and training exercise professionals to work with people with Parkinson’s.”

Awardee Jennifer Hale, a clinical associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, in Massachusetts, will advance research toward the understanding of the interplay between physical activity and Parkinson’s in women. To accomplish this, researchers will analyze data from the Women’s Health Study (WHS), a large international study investigating health outcomes in women.

Jennifer Penn, PhD, and Patti Berg-Poppe, PhD, will use their award to gather information and develop tools to promote the practice of physical exercise at home, in a manner that is safe and feasible and that can complement physical therapy intervention. Penn is an assistant professor at the University of the Incarnate Word, in Texas, and Berg-Poppe is a professor and the department of physical therapy chairwoman at the University of South Dakota.

The two nurses awarded this year are Diane Ellis and Carey Heck, PhD.

Ellis, a researcher at Villanova University, will use her award to continue research and conduct a study across large academic healthcare institutions to improve timely medication in Parkinson’s patients. Prior studies have shown that people hospitalized with Parkinson’s often fail to receive their medications on time or as prescribed.

Heck’s project will assist training nurse practitioner students to discuss the challenges associated with a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis with patients. The first of a three-part series, the students will take part in simulated experiences under faculty oversight. Heck is the director of the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Program at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Applications for the 2022 Physical Therapy Faculty Program are open through March 21. The program will take place at Boston University, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and Oregon Health & Science University. Those interested need to submit a short statement of purpose, a curriculum vitae and one letter of reference including contact information.