JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute earns Program of the Year honor

The Parkinson’s Disease Program at Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute was honored as “Program of the Year for 2020” by the New Jersey Speech-Language Hearing Association.

The NJSHA program recognizes professionals and students who have made a significant impact within the speech-language-hearing professions and on the lives of individuals they serve.

The Program of the Year award recognizes innovative ideas or strategies that provide unique services to individuals with speech, language and hearing or balance disorders. It also recognizes successful interventions for underserved populations; advancement of speech-language therapy or audiology; recognition and promotion of professionals who care for people with speech, language-pathology and/or audiology disorders; and increasing public awareness about these conditions.

NJSHA President Kathleen Palatucci said the honor was well-deserved.

“We have 2,000 members of NJSHA, so it’s truly an honor for one program to be singled out for its excellence,” she said. “The outstanding Parkinson’s program at JFK Johnson offers comprehensive services as well as cutting-edge approaches to improve and maintain function for people who are dealing with this neurological disease.

“The program offers creative services to improve speech of people with Parkinson’s, heightening both their day-to-day functioning and their quality of life.”

Some examples of the JFK Johnson Parkinson’s program include customized speech therapy, a choir for people with Parkinson’s, a weekly patient support program that provides encouragement and accountability among its members, a fitness curriculum using noncontact boxing, and an exercise protocol that incorporates movement into daily living for patients with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions.

Dr. Sara Cuccurullo, medical director and vice president of the JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, said the facility was grateful for the honor.

“This award reflects the dedication and teamwork of the program’s staff — doctors, nurses, specialized therapists and all of our care providers — who constantly look to innovate and improve care,” she said.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, nearly 1 million people in the U.S. are living with Parkinson’s disease, and this number is expected to increase to 1.2 million by 2030. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year.