Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2022

Academic Department

Occupational Therapy

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Terri Dennehy


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is currently affecting roughly one million individuals in the United States alone, with about 60,000 more being diagnosed with the disease every year (Parkinson’s Foundation, n.d.). Alarming statistics, as well as a personal connection and interest, led to the development of this project. A couple who I respect greatly is currently living with the husband’s diagnosis of PD. The way that Parkinson’s has quickly deteriorated his body has not visibly stopped the love and support they have for one another. They fight every day against a disease and the functional decline that accompanies it, but report being steadfast in their relationship with each other. Additionally, before the COVID-19 pandemic, I had the opportunity to volunteer at Rock Steady Boxing Lancaster, where Sue Ludwig, a certified personal trainer, uses boxing techniques to support those with Parkinson’s. I have met many people through this experience who continue to inspire this project. I have continued my work at their new space, Crush PD, as a volunteer, participant, and eager learner.

Aside from my personal connection to Parkinson’s disease, this project was informed through the lens of occupational therapy (OT), as I am a current fourth-year OT student at Elizabethtown College. In academia, we learn about the value of occupations, independence, and therapy interventions to increase the overall occupational health and wellbeing of those we serve. In the development of this project, I saw an innovation in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Working side-by-side with Crush PD fitness, my OT perspective values the functional aspect of every movement. The specific exercises they do lead to increased independence specific for individuals with a PD diagnosis (Sangarapillai, 2021). I personally see occupational therapy as a field of constant innovation, and in this project, I was searching for and learning about ways to be innovative in education and neurological treatment for those with Parkinson’s. My project began with a thoughtful and comprehensive review of the literature to ground my topic and to frame my approach. Additionally, the purpose of the literature review was to assess valuable aspects of Parkinson’s disease education and community programs as therapeutic sources for clients and professionals that work with this population. After the review of availed conceptual and empirical work on the topic of Parkinson’s Disease, I developed a blog and podcast to share information with the consuming public, both professional and lay individuals, about topics, resources and ideas related to PD. My project also endeavored to immerse myself in learning, experiences and interactions relative to the topic. I continued my work at Crush PD Fitness and also received certification in LSVT Big. This manuscript highlights my journey through this scholarly project.


Honors Senior Thesis; Honors in the Discipline