Neurodegenerative Disease (e.g. MS, Parkinson’s disease)

Geriatric Rehabilitation

Lifestyle Medicine


Non-Pharmacological Approaches to Enhance Health and Function in Individuals at Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease (421006)

Sunday, September 30
2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Location: Metropolitan

Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease are most prevalent among senior adults and pose serious financial burden on individuals, their caregivers, healthcare, and the economy. Technological advances in biomarker essays, neuro-imaging markers, and physiological markers have made it possible to identify seniors at risk of these neurodegenerative conditions before clinical diagnosis. Consequently, rehabilitation strategies are shifting from symptomatic treatment of motor and cognitive impairments to preventative strategies to prolong healthy aging (i.e., prehabilitation). In this session, we will discuss the evidence of promoting healthy lifestyle in prevention of neurodegenerative disease.

Learning Objectives:

Hannes Devos

Director, Laboratory for Advanced Rehabilitation Research in Simulation (LARRS)
University of Kansas Medical Center

Hannes Devos, Ph.D., DRS is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He is Director of the Laboratory for Advanced Rehabilitation Research in Simulation (LARRS), a research lab that is investigating the use of virtual reality technology to improve rehabilitation outcomes in neurodegenerative conditions. Dr. Devos' research interests include driving simulation, cognitive-motor interference, task complexity, and cognitive workload. Among many other professional organizations, he serves as Membership Officer and Treasurer of the Neurodegenerative Diseases Networking Group within ACRM.


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Jonathan Bean

Associate Professor
Harvard Medical School

My work is at the interface of rehabilitative and geriatric care. Through both observational research and clinical trials, our work has identified important modifiable risk factors for mobility decline, established the validity of clinically relevant tests and developed new paradigms of rehabilitative care. More recently, we have been focusing upon the interrelationship between mobility limitations and cognitive disorders. As the Director of the New England GRECC, I have the unique opportunity to pursue this line of research more thoroughly by collaborating with the outstanding cognitive neuroscience researchers within the GRECC and the VABHS. I am very proud of my track record of multidisciplinary research that we have conducted with colleagues both locally and nationally. In recognition of this body of work, in 2017, I received the Excellence in Rehabilitation of Aging Persons Award, from the Gerontological Society of America.


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Patricia Cristine Heyn

Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Patricia C. Heyn, PhD is an Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She has been involved in rehabilitation sciences research and education for over 20 years. Her research on cognition and exercise training, wellness, geriatrics, and disabilities has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, Coleman Institute, J.T. Tai Foundation, and the HHS Administration for Community Living. She has distinctive knowledge and provide guidance on current rehabilitation services research with the goal to improve the person’s quality of life, function and societal engagement. She has published over 75 peer-reviewed papers, abstracts and book chapters. She is well-known for her research on the prevention and intervention of Alzheimer’s disease through exercise treatments including screening and early identification of risk factors associated to neurocognitive dysfunction. Her meta-analysis study on the effects of exercise training for individuals with dementia is recognized as one of the most cited article from the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and is Altmetric highly scored. She is currently conducting a person-centered rehabilitation outcomes and healthcare access study for individuals with complex disabilities to evaluate the prevalence of chronic health conditions and risk factors associated to dementia as these individuals age. She is an elected fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, the NIH NIDDK The Network of Minority Health Research Investigators (NIH NDDK NMRI) and the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. She holds several leadership roles in many organizations such as the 1) chair of the Gerontological Society of America Mentoring Committee; 2) chair of the Neurodegenerative Diseases Networking Group and the Applied Cognition Task Force from the ACRM; 3) co-chair and founder of the Complementary and Integrated Rehabilitation Medicine Group from the ACRM; and 4) senior mentor faculty and program committee member for the NIH/NIDDK NMRI.


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Mark A. Hirsch

Senior Scientist
Carolinas Medical Center, Carolinas HealthCare System

Mark A. Hirsch, PhD is Senior Scientist, Carolinas Rehabilitation, Department of PM&R, Director, Resident Research Education (PM&R) and PM&R Lab, Adjunct Associate Professor, University of North Carolina, Charlotte NC campus. He received his PhD at Florida State University (at age 30) with a thesis titled “Activity-dependent enhancement of balance in Parkinson’s disease”. He received post-doctoral training on an NIH T32 neurorehabilitation research fellowship at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (1996-1999), Department of PM&R (with Prof. B. de Lateur) and at Neurology Dept, Heinrich-Heine University Dusseldorf, Germany (with Prof. H. Hefter). His current research interests are in gait and balance, mostly in Parkinson’s disease and in innovation, particularly patient/provider collaboration. He uses neurophysiologic techniques (e.g., computerized dynamic posturography, inertial measurement units and body worn sensors, instrumented carpet) and qualitative methods (participatopry action research) to characterize the interplay between cognitive and motor effects on neuroplasticity and rehabilitation in patients with Parkinson’s disease. His research has been supported by NIH, NICHD, NIMH, the Park Foundation and the Duke Endowment.
Hirsch has been with ACRM since 2008 and the Neurodegenerative Diseases Networking Group since 2013, member of ACRM Program Committee and ACRM Complementary Integrative Rehabilitation Medicine Group, Chair-Elect NDNG, Chair NDNG Awards Task Force. In 2016 the NDNG Awards Task Force developed the ACRM Women in Neurodegenerative Disease Rehabilitation Science Award, given to acknowledge world-class rehabilitation research conducted by a female scientist in neurodegenerative disease.
In 2007 together with neurologist Dr. Sanjay Iyer, and Carolinas Rehabilitation PM&R, he founded the Parkinson Network which in 2011 received funding from the Park Foundation and became known as RENEW Carolinas Parkinson Initiative (Research-and-Education-in-NeuroWellness), an innovative regional healthcare concept to improve the quality of care in PD that now includes 96 therapists at 11 outpatient PT and fitness clinics in Mecklenburg county North Carolina. Because of its excellence in patient care and evidence-based quality improvement RENEW received the “Ray of Hope Award” in 2016 by the Parkinson’s Association of the Carolinas. Hirsch serves on committees and boards internationally and has published over 80 publications including over 50 peer reviewed international papers.

5 Key publications (2014-2017):
1. Heyn PC, Hirsch MA, York MK, Backus D. Physical activity recommendations for the aging brain: A clinician-patient guide. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2016;97:1045-7.
2. Mougeot JL, Hirsch MA, Stevens CB, Mougeot F. Oral biomarkers in exercise-induced neuroplasticity in Parkinson’s disease. Oral Dis. 2016 Feb 15. doi: 10.1111/odi.12463
3. Hirsch MA, Iyer S, Sanjak M. Exercise-induced neuroplasticity in human Parkinson's disease: What is the evidence telling us? Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2016 Jan;22 Suppl 1:S78-81.
4. Pickut B, Vanneste S, Hirsch MA, Van Hecke W, Kerckhofs E, Marien P, Parizel PM, Crosiers D, Cras P. Mindfulness training among Individuals with Parkinson’s disease: Neurobehavioral effects, Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, vol. 2015, Article ID 816404, 6 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/816404.
5. Hirsch MA, Sanjak M, Englert D, Iyer SS, Quinlan MM. Parkinson patients as partners in care. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2014 Jan;20(Suppl 1):S174-179.


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Julie Faieta

Graduate Research Assistant
The Ohio State University

Julie Faieta is an Occupational Therapist and full time PhD student in Ohio State’s Health and Rehabilitation Science Program. Throughout her master’s program, Julie primarily researched moderately impaired stroke populations, transcranial direct current stimulation, and telerehabilitation. Upon entering the PhD program, Julie has transitioned her primary area of research to the evaluation of assistive technology based interventions to address symptoms and disease progression in neurodegenerative populations, with a specific interest in Alzheimer’s disease. Julie currently serves as chair of the Alzheimer’s Disease Task force within ACRM’s NDNG.


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Ran Polak

Founding Director, CHEF Coaching program
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Dr. Rani Polak is the founding director of both the Culinary Healthcare Education Fundamentals (CHEF) Coaching program at the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and the Center of Lifestyle Medicine at Sheba Medical Center, as well as a Research Associate at the Department of PM & R, Harvard Medical School. Prior to this position he completed a Research Fellowship in Lifestyle Medicine at Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, and a residency in Family Medicine at the Hebrew University Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel. Rani had the good fortune to be the founder of the Hadassah Healthy Cooking and Lifestyle Center and the Israeli Society of Lifestyle Medicine. His first lifestyle intervention won the Hebrew University’s Kaye Award Prize for innovation and his book, Delicious Diabetic Recipes, is a gold best seller.
Dr. Polak’s focus, along with clinical care, is on nutrition education, and on clinical and translational research relating to culinary medicine and medical education. His current work is concentrated on the Culinary Coaching approach, which aims to improve nutrition through culinary training combined with health coaching principles. This approach was used through: 1) Patients CHEF Coaching telemedicine program, aimed at improving eating behavior of patients with cardio-metabolic risk factors. This was implemented at HomeBase, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and at dozens of practices nationwide, and 2) Clinician CHEF Coaching tele-training program, aimed at training clinicians in how to provide effective Culinary Healthcare Education. This was implemented in the Yale Preventive Medicine/Internal Medicine residency program and was recently approved by Harvard Medical School for Continuing Medical Education credits. Dr. Polak’s work has been featured in many media outlets including Scientific American, Herald Tribute, Jerusalem Post, and USA Today.


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Non-Pharmacological Approaches to Enhance Health and Function in Individuals at Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease (421006)


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