The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) has partnered with the Office of Continuing Professional Education (OCPE) to create a highly-specialized training program for fitness, health, and wellness professionals. Available now, the course helps make exercise more accessible for people living with Parkinson’s disease (PD). OCPE was a natural choice to work with APDA after a successful collaboration on the development of an online PD awareness course for First Responders.
The new course, APDA Parkinson’s Disease Training for Fitness Professionals, is a free online training program that was carefully developed by a select panel of experts to help fitness professionals safely and effectively work with people with PD to develop exercise regimens that will support treatment of their symptoms and substantially improve their quality of life.
OCPE worked hand-in-hand with APDA to provide the project management and overall coordination that helped turn the APDA’s vision into a user-friendly training program. This included storyboarding, developing and writing content, filming and editing, along with publishing and pilot testing the course.
“APDA is an amazing organization,” said Kathleen Marrs, assistant director at OCPE. “On this and the previous course we developed with them, we were humbled to meet and work with people – some of whom have Parkinson’s – who are truly inspiring. We were very honored and happy to be a part of this extraordinary project.”
The importance of exercise and physical activity for people diagnosed with PD has been well-documented. Exercise produces many benefits including increased physical functioning (motor performance, strength, flexibility), improved gait and balance, cardiovascular fitness, and overall better quality of life. As such, great strides are being made to make exercise a part of the standard treatment of PD.
“As the evidence about the positive impact of exercise on people with PD started growing, we identified a gap of educational resources and easily-accessible guidance for the fitness community” said Leslie A. Chambers, president & CEO, APDA. “In order to have the biggest reach and impact the most people, we knew whatever we created had to be user-friendly and evidence-based.”
“People with PD who exercise do better over the long term compared to those who don’t,” said Terry Ellis, PT, PhD, NCS and co-chair of the training program. “So of course, we want to get as many people exercising as possible, but we want to make sure they are doing it safely, and doing the types of exercises that are going to be most effective for their symptoms and specific situations. This online program will enable us to get this critical information in the hands of so many people, who like us, are trying hard to help people with PD live their best, healthiest life.”
Whether newly diagnosed, or living with the disease for years, exercise is one of the most effective ways for individuals to combat the symptoms of PD. However, it is important for the fitness community to take into account a unique set of considerations to ensure that people with PD get the exercise they need in a manner that is specifically tailored to their particular symptoms and situations. With the growing number of community exercise classes specifically designed for the PD community, the APDA Parkinson’s Disease Training for Fitness Professionals online program helps to ensure that participants are safe and supported. The program also teaches fitness professionals about the signs and symptoms of PD and the important ways in which exercise can improve those symptoms, as well as how to describe common PD symptoms and clearly explain the benefits of exercise to those with PD.
The APDA Parkinson’s Disease Training for Fitness Professionals is a free 1-2 hour course with instructional videos. All of those who complete the training course will receive a certificate of completion.
The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) is the largest grassroots network dedicated to fighting Parkinson’s disease (PD) and works tirelessly to assist the more than 1 million Americans with PD live life to the fullest in the face of this chronic, neurological disorder. Founded in 1961, APDA has raised and invested more than $177 million to provide outstanding patient services and educational programs, elevate public awareness about the disease, and support research designed to unlock the mysteries of PD and ultimately put an end to this disease. To join us in the fight against Parkinson’s disease and to learn more about the support APDA provides nationally through our network of Chapters and Information & Referral (I&R) Centers, as well as our national Research Program and Centers for Advanced Research, please visit the website to learn more.
The Office of Continuing Professional Education – or “OCPE” – is part of Rutgers Cooperative Extension and the New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station at Rutgers University. OCPE provides educational opportunities for adults and adolescents through short courses, conferences, workplace training, and youth services. OCPE holds over 300 short courses and a dozen conferences annually serving approximately 20,000 registrants from New Jersey and around the world. OCPE staff also works directly with employers to develop high-value customized training for companies in New Jersey and beyond. Other services include planning and development of high-quality media and video, IT systems, and online courses. Finally, OCPE provides education and employment assistance, mentoring and support services to at-risk and disconnected urban youth throughout New Jersey. Learn more at the OCPE website.