NEW YORK & MIAMI (June 15, 2023) — The Parkinson’s Foundation has developed Parkinson’s disease (PD) specific competencies for exercise professionals working with those living with the disease. Published in the scientific journal Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, the point-of-view article presents a competency framework outlining how programs and courses can best educate and train exercise professionals to apply their existing expertise to design tailored exercises to help people with PD.
“Research clearly shows that regular exercise is associated with slower declines in mobility and yields many benefits for people living with Parkinson’s disease,” said article co-author Lisa Hoffman, MA, director of professional education at the Parkinson’s Foundation. “With the first-ever PD exercise competency framework for exercise professionals, we aim to equip them with an evidence-based competency framework so they can provide safe, beneficial exercises that can help improve symptom management, slow disease progression and improve quality of life.”
Whether in group settings or one-on-one, exercise professionals are often the care team member who people with PD see the most. Although it is well known that these professionals play a critical role in PD care, there were no universal standards that defined exercise competencies for working with this population. As a leader in driving better health outcomes and quality of life for people with PD, in addition to working in collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) to develop exercise recommendations, the Foundation has developed competencies to address this gap and reduce variability in the delivery of exercise to people with PD.
The newly published competencies outline how exercise professionals should design and deliver exercises to people with PD. Each expectation describes important components to help professionals achieve competence when working with people with PD. They are divided into the following domains:
- Foundational Information on the Diagnosis, Treatment and the Role of Exercise
- Screening for People with Parkinson’s Disease to Participate in Exercise
- Group/Individual Exercise Design for People with Parkinson’s Disease
- Executive Leadership for People with Parkinson’s Disease: Human Behavior and Counseling
- Interprofessional Communication and Program Development
Exercise education programs that meet the criteria are recognized as part of the Parkinson’s Foundation Exercise Accreditation Recognition, which distinguishes PD-specific exercise education programs and courses that align with the Foundation’s Criteria for Exercise Education Programs and the newly published Competency Framework for Exercise Professionals.
Exercise professionals looking to further their knowledge and skills at the intersection of PD and exercise are encouraged to attend one of the Foundation’s accredited programs and courses. For more information about the PD exercise recommendations or the Parkinson’s Foundation Accreditation Recognition, please visit Parkinson.org/ExercisePros.
About the Parkinson’s Foundation
The Parkinson’s Foundation makes life better for people with Parkinson’s disease by improving care and advancing research toward a cure. In everything we do, we build on the energy, experience and passion of our global Parkinson’s community. Since 1957, the Parkinson’s Foundation has invested more than $449 million in Parkinson’s research and clinical care. Connect with us on Parkinson.org, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or call 1-800-4PD-INFO (1-800-473-4636).
About Parkinson’s Disease
Affecting an estimated one million Americans, Parkinson’s disease is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s and is the 14th-leading cause of death in the U.S. It is associated with a progressive 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). There is no cure for Parkinson’s and nearly 90,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S.