Tech’s Parkinson Resource Center: caring now, educating the future

By Spencer Drake

The Parkinson Resource Center at Louisiana Tech has been helping those in the community with Parkinson’s disease since 2018, while giving nursing students the chance to get first-hand experience with the Parkinson’s community. This program is globally influenced to properly give the best experience for those with Parkinson’s disease. 

Donna Hood was one of the original co-founders of the program back in 2018 and still works with the program to organize weekly events and give Tech nursing students the opportunity to help. She has spent a frequent amount of time with the Parkinson’s community, both at the University of Alabama Movement Disorder Clinic and the World Parkinson Congress in Kyoto, Japan. 

One event she started was a Music and Movement Program, offered every Wednesday from 10-11 a.m. at the Lambright Sports and Wellness Center. The program is taught by Gretchen Jones and Leaia Alsup, who are dance professionals but were also trained in New York through the international Dance for PD® program. Northeast LA Parkinson’s Chorale is another event added to the program on Wednesdays from 9- 9:45 a.m. under the direction of Louisiana Tech’s music faculty member Shayla Blake. 

These events are funded by a Grant from the Parkinson’s Foundation, and there is no charge to participants, unlike Rock Steady Boxing. Each Rock Steady Boxing Affiliate prices different, with most charging $15 per session, with a recommended two sessions a week. 

Parkinson Resource Center at Louisiana Tech also gives students of nursing, speech language pathology, gerontology, kinesiology, and biology the chance to personally interact with the Parkinson’s community.  They get the chance to learn about what an evidence-based program can do for someone facing the challenges with Parkinson’s disease.

Nursing students in particular have the opportunity to work as Parkinson Resource Center nursing student scholars, where they can receive scholarship money as well as become involved in the organization of events with the resource center. They are able to build personal relationships with the individuals with Parkinson’s disease. 

“Through this experience they begin to understand the challenges of living with PD and the opportunities for science-based programs to address the challenges, slow the progression of the disease, and improve quality of life,” Hood said. 

The resource center is offering an educational event on Louisiana Tech’s campus for anyone interested in learning more about Parkinson’s, treatments, and the impact of programs such as those offered on Louisiana Tech’s campus through the Parkinson Resource Center. The event will be on May 13, 2023. 

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