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AwardsDec 18, 2023

Physiotherapists given awards and praise from patients at Parkinson's Excellence Network Awards

The panel of judges responsible for naming the winners of a leading charity’s annual awards scheme were so impressed by two inspiring physiotherapists that they decided to give both of them the People’s Award. It was the first time the category had featured at the Parkinson's Excellence Network Awards, which were held this year at a ceremony on 22 November at Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

The specialist physiotherapists winners were Suzanne Seymour and Julie Jones, who work at the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, respectively. Neuro-specialist physiotherapist Suzanne Seymour has said she was ‘honoured’ to win the first-ever People’s Choice award. She was nominated by patients and their families in north Devon after she set up Power UP, a group for people with a recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

Power UP group members who nominated her said: ‘Power UP has been transformational and inspiring. Suzanne has given hope to – and improved the fitness levels of – countless people with Parkinson’s.’

Suzanne said: ‘It’s been an honour to work with the group and support them on their journey. I would like to raise awareness of the role physiotherapists play in providing care for people with Parkinson’s and how increasing physical activity can help a number of symptoms.’ 

Photo Credit: Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Trust
Suzanne (centre) received her award from Jane Asher, Parkinson's UK president (right)

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A ‘fun and informative’ course  

Power UP members are reported to value the ‘fun and informative’ course that runs over 11 weeks. After exercising for an hour, they receive 45 minutes of education about physical activity and Parkinson’s symptoms. Topics include the effects of Parkinson’s on brains and bodies, how medication works, wellbeing, depression and anxiety.

Helen Cooke, head of therapies for northern services at Suzanne's trust, said: ‘Suzanne has worked tirelessly to improve the quality and outcome of therapy interventions for people with Parkinson’s. Her enthusiasm and commitment for this have not waivered and I am delighted for her and so very proud that she has won this award in recognition of her hard work.’

Specialist physiotherapist Julie Jones

Julie Jones is associate dean for economic and community engagement at Robert Gordon University. Parkinson’s UK said: ‘Julie has an immense thirst for knowledge and her practice is renowned. She is on a constant quest to improve care and support for people with Parkinson’s. Not just for people directly under her care, but also for others across the UK. 

[Julie] provides invaluable assistance to people with Parkinson’s in her inspirational Parkinson’s Beats drumming classes. But what makes her stand out is [that] at her core, she genuinely cares for people with Parkinson’s. She is in their corner

‘Julie is a chief scientific officer and a Parkinson’s UK clinical academic fellow. She’s involved with the NHS clinical session, the North of Scotland Parkinson’s Research Interest Group and is the chair of the Parkinson’s Active Group.’

Parkinson’s UK added that Julie is co-lead of the Parkinson’s Excellence Network Exercise Hub. 'And she provides invaluable assistance to people with Parkinson’s in her inspirational Parkinson’s Beats drumming classes. But what makes her stand out is at her core, she genuinely cares for people with Parkinson’s. She is in their corner.'

Plaudits for the Exercise Hub

More praise for physiotherapists came when the winners of the Community support award were announced. That award went to the UK-wide Exercise Hub, which was originally established by a small group of ‘passionate and dedicated’ physiotherapists, including Beccy Oliver, to raise the profile and quality of exercise provision for people with Parkinson's.

Over eight years, the charity said, it has developed into a 'vibrant community of more that 500 practitioners who share advice and best practice via an online platform'. Members can attend monthly ‘Zoominars’ with expert speakers, and three in-person study days have been held. Core Exercise Hub members have worked with Parkinson's UK to develop resources for people with Parkinson's and professionals, and have influenced the charity's Physical activity strategy.

Watch the Exercise Hub video on YouTube.

 To find out more about vacancies and careers at the Royal Devon, which has more than 15,000 employees, click 

Author: I A McMillan
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