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SHU's Ctr for Excellence in Neurological Health Provides Knowledge & Services

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Learning you or a loved one has a neurological disorder can feel overwhelming. There are so many questions: How did it develop? Is it genetic? Does it require surgery or medication? Will life ever be “normal” again?

There are multiple nervous system disorders that require the care of professionals, such as Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Questions are natural following a diagnosis, and Sacred Heart University’s Center for Excellence in Neurological Health (CENH) has answers.

The center focuses on prevention and treatment of neurological conditions and diseases across a person’s lifespan. Housed within SHU’s College of Health Professions since 2016, the CENH provides excellence in neurological rehabilitation, doubling as a faculty research center and an interprofessional faculty- and student-run rehabilitation clinic. It also serves as a knowledge translation center for rehabilitation practitioners. 

The center offers a multitude of services to promote and enhance the care of people with neurological conditions and diseases. Educational seminars are available for people living with these disorders, as well as for their families. Liaison services connect people with local resources and businesses that can help, and the center is available to area residents for screening, preventive and rehabilitative services. Additionally, evidence-based professional seminars are accessible for local clinicians and medical providers, as are consulting services for neurological rehabilitation practitioners.  

Students in all health profession majors have access to interprofessional, educational opportunities and integrated clinical experience from the CENH. The center’s Stronger After Stroke program, started by SHU’s speech-language pathology program, gives students clinical education experiences. The program becomes interdisciplinary during the summer with physical and occupational therapy. People from the community who have suffered from strokes can receive treatment from students in all three of these programs, under faculty guidance.

The Pioneer Performance Center has partnered with the CENH to create exercise programs aimed at improving walking and balance for those whose gait is affected by neurological issues, while providing students with hands-on learning opportunities. “We monitor heart rate and blood pressure and train individuals at high intensities such as 75%-85% of heart rate maximum,” said Wendy Romney, clinical assistant professor of physical therapy. “Training includes walking on treadmills, over ground and on the stairs at the fastest speeds possible. Harnesses are worn for safety.”

Romney is a member of the CENH committee. The committee includes College of Health Profession faculty members who set yearly goals for the CENH. At the center, Romney works on high-intensity gait training for individuals with neurological disease. She is a board-certified specialist in neurological physical therapy with a Ph.D. in health science. She has been practicing at inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation settings and working with neurological diseases for the past 14 years. As a faculty member at SHU, she has taught courses in physical therapy examination for patients with neurological disease.                    

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About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 386 Colleges–2021 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best Business Schools–2021 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theatre. www.sacredheart.edu

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