Newswise — Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute announced the recent opening of its new Parkinson’s Wellness Program, a unique, two-week inpatient rehabilitation experience for people living with Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder that can present itself differently across individuals. Diagnosis is determined by a neurologist and medications, therapy and exercise are key to better control of the symptoms.
“Our team of neurologists and specialized therapists identified the need to help people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease who are not acutely ill or severely disabled but who struggle greatly at home with the symptoms and life-style changes that Parkinson’s disease brings,” said Sara Cuccurullo, M.D., vice president and medical director, JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. “In our new program, patients are admitted from their homes to participate in an individualized, multidisciplinary and targeted two-week inpatient rehabilitation program that helps them restore and maintain their function.”
Whether it be making medication adjustments, decreasing falls, improving voice quality or gaining more independence with activities of daily living, the JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute’s Parkinson’s Wellness Program customizes the treatment approach for each patient’s stay. We are particularly focused on safety and reducing hospital admissions.
“Every individual who comes to the program is involved in developing their own treatment goals,” said Janice P. Dibling MS, CCC/SLP, Manager of Acute and Inpatient Rehabilitation Speech Pathology, JFK Johnson “We provide the encouragement, education and specialized care that help people to be their own best self.”
A patient’s initial assessment is completed by physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute and neurologists specializing in movement disorders at Hackensack Meridian JFK University Medical Center’s Neuroscience Institute.
These doctors work with rehabilitation nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, social workers, rehabilitation psychologists, pharmacists, nutritionists and exercise physiologists to create a customized treatment plan based on the patients’ health and specific goals. Resources, education, and equipment recommendations are provided based on an individual’s needs. Families and caretakers are welcomed to participate in the program.
After the two-week inpatient stay, patients are transitioned to outpatient services, as appropriate to enhance their continued approach to living well with Parkinson’s disease. These outpatient programs include physical, occupational and speech therapies, the “ParkinSINGS”-a choir for people with Parkinson’s, Rock Steady Boxing as well as further referrals to encourage carry over of improved function.
Criteria for the program includes those who may be experiencing frequent falls at home, a "freezing" gait, the need for medication adjustment, or worsening swallowing problems. Candidates will need to be able to tolerate 3 hours or more hours of therapy in a day. In addition, all participants must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and influenza.