Developing an Advanced Course on Neurodegenerative Conditions for Health Care Professionals

Student: Aimee A. Villalpando, OTR/L, OTD, CNS
Mentor: Michael Ang, OTD, OTR/L, CNS
School: West Coast University
Setting: Education/Continuing Education
Site/Location: The Neuro Specialist Institute (Hybrid)

Purpose: To provide the global community of rehabilitation and health care specialists an advanced certification opportunity with the purpose of positively impacting patient care and outcomes. After conducting an extensive needs assessment and SWOT analysis, there was a need to address a lack of consistent and specialized approach to treating individuals with neurodegenerative conditions.

Method/Design/Approach: The capstone process included conducting a literature review, seeking continuing education, attaining additional certifications, conducting interviews, networking, and gaining hands-on teaching experience while developing the course content and materials. Various topics were addressed in the course for the following conditions: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Huntington’s disease (HD), and Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS).

Results/Outcomes: At the conclusion of the Doctoral Capstone Experience (DCE), the capstone student accomplished the following learning objectives: attained academic skills in the teaching-learning process, obtained skills in creating educational materials and in developing an academic assessment. The advanced course created during the DCE will be delivered by The Neuro Specialist Institute at a later date.

Conclusions: The major takeaway from this capstone project is in order to develop an advanced-level course, it is important to speak to patients and professionals and conduct an in-depth search on what the best practices are. In addition, including a hands-on portion where course participants can apply the interventions will be of greater value.

Ideas for next steps to build on this topic:

  • Using evidence-based research (and practice) to provide effective treatments for people with neurodegenerative conditions
  • Become familiar with common medications people with neurodegenerative conditions are prescribed that may affect therapeutic outcomes
  • Develop programs specific to people with neurodegenerative conditions that can be implemented in clinical and/or community settings

Tips for students undertaking a similar project:

  • Reflect on your past learning experiences and identify what made certain courses/labs effective so that you can include elements of that in your instructional content/materials.
  • Be as creative as possible when creating course materials!
  • Do not underestimate the power of communication/networking. Seeking support from mentors, professionals, and other experts is going to be extremely helpful when learning in-depth about a specific topic.


  • An advanced-level course on neurodegenerative conditions for Certified Neuro Specialist (CNS) practitioners
  • A course book that accompanies the advanced-level course on neurodegenerative conditions
  • A course assessment that proves participants’ competency in working with patients with neurodegenerative conditions
  • Advanced clinical knowledge on addressing patients with neurodegenerative conditions for CNS practitioners

Wow, @aimee1, what an incredible and practical capstone. It looks like one day you can take my place make courses :slight_smile:

I think I was your first follower on YouTube, and I’m excited to see what you create in the future. Thank you so much for sharing this project!