"Almost a decade ago, APDA successfully led the fight to secure physical therapy coverage for people with PD on Medicare."
Helping people who have Parkinson's disease (PD) access information on exercise recommendations, the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) and Boston University have established the country's first National Resource Center for Rehabilitation.
The center's toll-free "helpline" telephone number is 1-888-606-1688, and callers will be able to speak with a licensed physical therapist who can answer questions about exercise, provide information about programs in the caller's area and provide educational materials.
"Almost a decade ago, APDA successfully led the fight to secure physical therapy coverage for people with PD on Medicare," said Joel Gerstel, executive director of the country's largest grassroots organization serving America's 1.5 million people diagnosed with the progressive, degenerative neurological disease.
"At the time, the benefits of exercise and physical therapy were under recognized, but today, exercise has proven a valuable tool in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for people with disease. APDA is again in the forefront by making free physical-exercise information readily available to patients, their caregivers and healthcare professionals across the country," Gerstel said.
"Evidence supporting the benefits of exercise for people with Parkinson's disease is growing," said Terry Ellis, PT, PhD, a leader in neurological physical therapy research, and the new center's director.
Dr. Ellis is a clinical associate professor in the department of physical therapy and athletic training at the College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College. The new resource is an outgrowth of the Center for Neurorehabilitation's Community Wellness Programs, which are exercise programs designed to improve mobility, quality of life and communications for persons with PD. These programs have benefited more than 400 people in 14 New England communities.
Dr. Marie Saint Hilaire, director of the APDA Center for Advanced Research at Boston University, points out the importance of exercise in the management of Parkinson's disease. "Exercise helps to improve quality of life and day-to-day function in people with Parkinson's disease," said Dr. Saint Hilaire, who recommends that patients with PD consult with a physical therapist early in the disease process in order to reap the benefits right from the start.
Vlad Lyczmanenko, president of APDA's Massachusetts Chapter, which is co-funding the center, said that his chapter strongly supports the initiative. "It is imperative that people with PD are first motivated to exercise and then have access to professionals who can help them with practical information about how to exercise correctly for their particular needs."
Cathi Thomas, coordinator of the APDA Information & Referral Center at Boston University's Medical Campus, noted the value to other healthcare providers and said the center will maintain updated lists of community rehabilitation specialists.
"Our objective is to share this knowledge with patients, caregivers, students and healthcare professionals," said Dr. Ellis. "This partnership with APDA, also known for its pioneering efforts in physical therapy, will give anyone interested an easy, free pathway to the most up-to-date information."
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