Parkinson's Foundation announces first-ever Physical Therapy Faculty Award

The Parkinson's Foundation announced that it has awarded its first-ever Parkinson's Foundation Physical Therapy Faculty Award to three physical therapists, totaling $30,000. The physical therapists, all graduates of the Parkinson's Foundation Physical Therapy Faculty Program, will each receive up to $10,000 in grant funding from the Foundation to launch individual projects to help make life better for people with Parkinson's disease (PD).

With the number of people living with Parkinson's increasing, there is a great need for Parkinson's experienced physical therapists on the front lines of care. The Parkinson's Foundation supports the training of PT faculty to enhance their knowledge in PD through its professional education programs for faculty and now funds their projects through the new Parkinson's Foundation Physical Therapy Faculty Award.

We are delighted to have a program that supports physical therapy faculty leaders who are educating the next generation of PTs about Parkinson's care. We wanted to take this support one step further by launching a seed grant funding program that will allow our PT faculty alumni to further develop their independent projects and enhance their impact on the Parkinson's community."

John Lehr, Parkinson's Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer

All three awardees completed the Parkinson's Foundation Physical Therapy Faculty Program -- a 40-hour program that teaches faculty leaders how to educate physical therapy students in evidence-based practice in Parkinson's research and care. The new Foundation award offers mentorship throughout the year and funds the launch and/or implementation of these projects.

The three Scholar awardees include:

Lori Schrodt, PT, PhD: Her project will develop academic partnerships with community-based organizations to provide physical therapy students with skills to better assist people with Parkinson's and their care partners. The partnerships will improve the continuum of care and integration of clinical services with community programs. Lori is a professor of physical therapy at Western Carolina University.

Amy Yorke, PT, PhD, NCS: Her project will monitor the cardiovascular response of people with Parkinson's who attend a community-based PD exercise program to establish a heart rate monitoring protocol that may be implemented into community-based programs to track the benefits of high intensity exercise for people with Parkinson's. Amy Yorke is an associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Sarah Fishel, PT, DPT, NCS: Her project will examine the efficacy of a challenging balance training program for people with Parkinson's by comparing an aquatic-based group exercise class to one that is land-based. Results will determine whether a highly challenging program may reduce fall rates and improve balance. Sarah Fishel is an assistant professor of physical therapy at Ithaca College.

"While evidence supports how the increase of cardiovascular intensity during exercise can lead to neuroprotection, there is no monitoring system in place that can track the heart rate of people with PD," said Amy Yorke, PT, PhD, NCS, associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Michigan-Flint and PT Faculty Program alum. "This funding, granted by the Parkinson's Foundation, will allow us to establish a protocol by developing a heart rate monitoring process that can be implemented into several community-based exercise programs".

The Parkinson's Foundation Physical Therapy Faculty Program helps prepare the next generation of physical therapists to care for the growing population of people with Parkinson's. Applications are now open for the 2020 Boston University, OHSU and newly added Washington University site trainings. For more information, please visit Parkinson.org/PTFaculty.

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