During the Parkinson’s Wellness Camp participants rotated through different sessions including a Wii Fit station. The Wii challenged the patients’ balance. A home exercise station helped educate patients about what they can do at home to help improve their condition. The camp was an opportunity to go beyond the classroom and help improve the lives of those who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease. The course was taught by Dr. Preeti Oza, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy. Dr. Oza joined the Pacific Family in August 2013 and has been involved with the Stockton-San Joaquin Parkinson’s Disease Support Group ever since.
Under Dr. Oza’s supervision, the Parkinson’s Disease Wellness Camp was organized and led by Jared Descoteaux ’15, Renee Fini ’15, Allen Herinckx ’15, Kelly Perryman ’15 and Michael Whipple ’15 providing services to six individuals who were recruited through the support group.
Each student contributed to making the event a success. Fini gathered information about local organizations and resources for patients. “I found many resources from the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) and the Parkinson’s Foundation websites that encouraged movement-based activities,” she said. “It is very beneficial for patients with Parkinson’s to have an active lifestyle.” The severity of Parkinson’s can range from mild to advanced and can progress differently in different people. The patients at the camp were no different and had different levels of functional independence and cognitive awareness.
Perryman shared the most important lesson she learned. “Being able to make last-minute decisions to adapt and accommodate the patients’ individual needs was a learning experience,” she said. Fini added “It’s important to realize that even though individuals are diagnosed with the same stage of the disease, they do not always present the same symptoms. We need to treat each individual as their own person with their own challenges.”
Experiential learning is a key component of the Pacific experience and helps foster student professional development. “The Parkinson’s Wellness camp allows our students to interact, examine and evaluate mobility issues of individuals with neurologic disorders,” Dr. Oza said. “In addition to taking ownership of the event, the students get to experience the intricacies and details required to arrange such an event.”
The camp was instrumental in helping students develop leadership and critical and creative thinking skills. “From this experience, I feel more confident about my ability to adapt to changes when things don’t go as planned,” Whipple said. Last summer the students also assisted Dr. Oza with the Balance Clinic. “I have noticed their professionalism and caring attitudes towards the clients,” she said. “These students make us – the Physical Therapy faculty – proud and I am confident they will represent University of the Pacific well.”