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Parkinson's Disease Foundation Invests in Next Generation of Physical Therapy Leaders

PDF Launches Innovative Pilot Training Program for Physical Therapy Educators

The Parkinson's Disease Foundation® (PDF®) is pleased to announce the launch of the Physical Therapy Faculty Program to improve care for the nearly one million people in the United States living with Parkinson’s disease. The pilot program launched this week in Boston, MA.

It is estimated that the number of people with Parkinson's disease may double by 2030. Research suggests that physical therapy and exercise can help people with Parkinson’s to maintain and improve mobility and to experience a better quality of life. Yet physical therapists have reported the need for better training to care for those living with Parkinson’s disease.

The Physical Therapy Faculty Program at PDF is a pilot “train the trainer” program that educates physical therapy faculty leaders who can, in turn, prepare their students to care for people with Parkinson’s. Participants in this week’s pilot program underwent an intensive training that included academic instruction, hands-on experience with people living with the disease, and mentorship from physical therapists who specialize in Parkinson's research and care.

"The Physical Therapy Faculty Program at PDF recognizes that physical therapy educators are in a unique position to help shape the future of Parkinson’s care — by reaching the next generation of practitioners. We are thrilled to launch the program, and welcome the first of our participants, who are already designing innovative curriculums that will change the landscape of physical therapy care and education in Parkinson’s disease,” said Terry Ellis, P.T., Ph.D., N.C.S., Manager of the Physical Therapy Faculty Program at PDF, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training at Boston University’s College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College, and Director of the Center for Neurorehabilitation at Boston University.

"At PDF, our strategy is to mobilize a team of leaders in research, health care and the patient community to work together to end Parkinson's disease. As we look at the needs of our growing community — one which can greatly benefit from multidisciplinary care — we know that physical therapists are critical to our team," added Robin Anthony Elliott, CEO of PDF.

Participants are now prepared to care for people with Parkinson's, design teaching methods for students, integrate learning into community settings and conduct patient-centric research to improve physical therapy care in Parkinson's. They will continue to collaborate with PDF to advance research, care and physical therapy education in Parkinson's disease.

The Physical Therapy Faculty Program at PDF will expand to additional sites in 2017. Those who are accepted can earn up to 39 Continuing Competence Units (CCUs).

About Parkinson's Disease (PD)
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects nearly one million people in the US and over 10 million worldwide. Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's and is the 14th leading cause of death in the US. It is associated with a loss of motor control (e.g., shaking or tremor at rest and lack of facial expression) as well as non-motor symptoms (e.g., depression and anxiety A feeling of nervousness, worried thoughts and physical distress.). Although promising research is being conducted, there is currently no cure for Parkinson's disease.

About Health Leadership at PDF
As part of the Parkinson's Disease Foundation® (PDF®) strategy to end Parkinson's, PDF mobilizes leaders in the health community to help us more quickly solve, treat and end the disease. Through innovative clinical training and online programs, PDF and its health leaders are playing an integral role in shaping multidisciplinary research and care and influencing national standards for health professional education. These programs include the Movement Disorders Clinical Training Program, which has trained 150 doctors trained to date, making PDF the largest private funder of training for early-career neurologists to specialize in Parkinson’s; the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Visiting Nurse Faculty Program at PDF, through which PDF has trained 190 nurse faculty leaders; and the newly-launched Physical Therapy Faculty Program, which aims to train 40 physical therapy educators by 2019. PDF also supports health leaders on the frontlines, by arming those in the nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology fields with the tools they need to stay informed and support their patients. PDF offerings include free continuing education opportunities and patient education materials. In 2016, PDF is investing $600,000 for health leadership programs.

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