LIU Brooklyn Fitness Program for People with Parkinson’s Disease Is Highlighted by Student Video


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive brain disease that causes a person to increasingly lose control of their movements and balance, and experience other difficulties. For more than a decade, LIU Brooklyn has been collaborating with the Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group to help individuals with Parkinson’s stay active through a free exercise program called Fitness for PD, directed by Dr. Rebecca A. States, professor of Physical Therapy.

“Anyone with Parkinson’s is encouraged to stay physically active and socially active,” said Dr. States. “This program helps them do that.”

Recently two LIU Brooklyn students, Savvy Williams and Chris Burgess, made a video of the program in action. Here’s the link.

“They were a pleasure to work with, very professional and with great skills,” said Professor States, who explained that the program’s goals are to help people find a way to live with Parkinson’s and enjoy their life.

Janice Holt Mason, a certified fitness instructor and an adjunct instructor in the Department of Athletic Training, Health and Exercise Science (ATHES) at LIU Brooklyn, has been teaching this class since it began in 2008 and seen it evolve.

“We saw that it would be a great benefit to the students and the school to turn it into a bonafide course,” she explained.

Dr. States praised Holt Mason’s “extraordinary ability” to tailor the exercises to fit the needs of each individual.

“Having a form of exercise that works for them helps them fight the disease,” added Dr. States.

Nancy Petaja, who heads the Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group, commended Fitness for PD.

“The program has made a huge contribution to the services we have available for people,” Petaja said.

The two-and-a-half-hour class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the Fall, Spring and Summer semesters. On any given day, there are usually a dozen participants. All told 120 people have gone through the program, according to Prof. States, who added that two other ATHES faculty members, Amerigo Rossi and Tracye Rawls-Martin, also help run it.