APDA’s Free Online PD Training for Fitness Professionals Can Help Families Too

APDA’s Free Online PD Training for Fitness Professionals Can Help Families Too

We at the Stanford APDA (American Parkinson Disease Association) Information & Referral Center recently explored a free online training available from the APDA for fitness professionals to learn more about working with patients who have Parkinson’s disease (PD). Exercise is essential for those living with PD, but not everyone has access to a personal trainer or wellness coach who is already experienced with the disease. This one- to two-hour training can help fitness professionals become familiar with the basic symptoms of PD; understand the benefits clients can receive from exercise; put together useful, appropriate exercise programs at different stages of the disease; and ensure client safety during exercise.  Information in the training can also be helpful for those working out on their own or with a caregiver. 

Below is our summary of the APDA online training for fitness professionals. 

You can find the training here.

If you would like to reach the APDA’s national office about this training, contact apda@apdaparkinson.org.

The Stanford APDA website has lots of resources for those wanting to exercise:


(If you know of a class or video we don’t list, please let us know!)
Lauren
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Did You Know? APDA Offers Free Online PD Training for Fitness Professionals

We at the Stanford APDA recently explored a free online training available from the APDA for fitness professionals to learn more about working with patients who have Parkinson’s disease (PD). Exercise is essential for those living with PD, but not everyone has access to a personal trainer or wellness coach who is already experienced with the disease. This one- to two-hour training can help fitness professionals become familiar with the basic symptoms of PD; understand the benefits clients can receive from exercise; put together useful, appropriate exercise programs at different stages of the disease; and ensure client safety during exercise.  Information in the training can also be helpful for those working out on their own or with a caregiver. Below is our summary of the program and relevant links. 

How was the training developed? 

The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) organized a panel of specialists on PD and exercise from several prominent academic medical centers, comprising neurologists, movement disorder experts, and physical therapists, to develop this training program for fitness professionals. The intended audience can include personal trainers, physical therapists, wellness coaches, and yoga instructors, among others. APDA partnered with the Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education (OCPE) to create this free, one- to two-hour online training based on the program developed by the panel. Participants receive a certificate of completion upon finishing the training program.

Press release from the program’s launch in 2018.

Access the training program.

Other PD resources available from APDA

Who might benefit from the training?

If you have already established a good rapport with a fitness professional whom you saw for a different issue – a strained back, a knee injury, core strengthening, etc. – sometimes it can be preferable to return to them rather than finding someone new. However, not all fitness professionals are knowledgeable or experienced in the specific needs of those with PD. Sometimes, there may not be anyone with PD experience offering fitness services in your geographical area.

For a personal trainer, fitness coach, yoga instructor, or other fitness professional who is interested to learn more in order to better serve their clients with PD, this training is a free, time-efficient way to expand their understanding of this disease and the unique needs of these patients. This one- to two-hour program includes written portions, video segments illustrating movement difficulties, and quizzes to check comprehension.

What does the training include?

  • Basic facts about PD: How many Americans are affected? How is it diagnosed? What occurs in the brain when someone has PD? What is young-onset PD?
  • Common symptoms: Motor vs non-motor symptoms, and progression of symptoms over time.
  • Treatments for PD: Common medications, deep brain stimulation, motor fluctuations, dyskinesias, and side effects.
  • Benefits of exercise: For older adults in general, and those with PD in particular.
  • Guidelines and tips: Starting at a lower intensity and gradually increasing; exercising when the client is in the “on” state; finding ways to motivate the client to stick with the regimen; measuring challenge levels; and recommendations at different stages of disease.
  • The care team: Patients with PD typically see a team of professionals, which may include a neurologist, a nurse, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech pathologist, and a nutritionist, among others.
  • Suggested exercises at different stages of disease: There are many ways those with PD can exercise successfully—stretching, boxing, working out in a gym with a personal trainer, dance, and tai chi, for instance. The training presents case studies of clients at different stages of PD and what exercises would be most appropriate.
  • Safety during exercise: Tailor safety guidelines depending on the client’s individual symptoms and needs; take into account medication timing; avoid crowded workspaces; provide cues; have chairs or rails available; be familiar with freezing of gait (FOG), as well as how to manage it; and watch out for neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (OH), a drop in blood pressure that can cause fainting.
  • Resources for further learning: Links for the client and the fitness professional to learn more about the benefits of exercise for those with PD.

This concise, well-designed training program emphasizes that those with PD can still participate in a wide variety of physical activity at different stages of disease. While safety concerns are paramount, APDA seeks to empower fitness professionals to provide useful, challenging exercises for their PD clients and encourage them to remain active.