OT alumna headed for third WSU degree researching yoga for Parkinson’s

Alicia Jones
Having earned both her bachelor's and master's at Wayne State, Alicia Jones is now working on her PhD.

A Detroit native, Alicia Jones graduated from Lewis Cass Technical High School and went on to pursue not just one but three degrees at Wayne State. She earned a dual bachelor’s in health science and psychology in 2010, then launched right into a graduate program at WSU Applebaum, receiving her master's in occupational therapy in 2012.

Now working on her PhD in kinesiology with a specialization in motor control and a minor in neuroscience, Jones is seeking participants for her dissertation research study, “The Effects of Yoga on Motor Control Processing in Individuals with Parkinson's Disease.” Current OT student Cassandra Viselli is the yoga instructor for the program, and sessions are held in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at 259 Mack Ave., Detroit.

“My specialization area as an occupational therapist is applying interventions suited for individuals with progressive movement disorders,” Jones said.

She is a certified and registered occupational therapist in a sub-acute rehabilitation center. Her areas of treatment include cerebrovascular accidents, neurological impairments, orthopedic surgery and accidents, physical disabilities and cognitive disorders. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the WSU College of Education.

Yoga for Parkinson's Disease at EACPHS
WSU Applebaum OT student Cassandra Viselli leads Parkinson's patients in a yoga session.

Through her doctoral study, Jones is examining the effects of a six-week yoga program on the progression of Parkinson’s disease, with an eye on grip strength modulation, reaction time (pre-motor and motor time), unilateral standing balance, tandem walking, speed manipulation of small items, ADL performance and independence, and overall quality of life. Poses are modified and adapted to fit the population.

“The focus of this research is to see any real time and purposeful benefits of Parkinson’s patients participating in other forms of physical activity such as yoga, as intense aerobic exercise is not suitable for all individuals,” Jones said. “I’m also interested to see if the ‘mindfulness’ component in yoga can facilitate central and peripheral nervous system communication and processing.”

Interested participants undergo a pre-test of targeted assessment areas, then begin the yoga program within one week. The yoga sessions run on Tuesday afternoons from 4:30-6 p.m. including warm-up, cool-down and light refreshments. After six weeks, the participants will undergo a post-test of the same assessment areas.

Participants and one partner and/or caregiver are welcome to attend; all supplies are included and the sessions are free.

For more information about the study or to enroll as a participant, contact Jones at 248-923-1012 or ax1387@wayne.edu.

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