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Lynn Steffes: Let’s better integrate physical therapy and cognitive fitness

Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT

Lynn Steffes, PT, DPT

What excites you the most about your job?
Thanks to the rehabilitation consulting service I run, I have the amazing opportunity to work with physical rehabilitation practices and associations across the country on program development, marketing & business operations. Professionals in the rehab field are passionate about keeping our population active, independent and enjoying optimal quality of life, and that is why bringing programs that address brain health and wellness excites me!

Please tell us about your interest in applied brain science. What areas are you most interested in? What motivated you to pursue work in your field?
I have both personal & professional reasons. On a personal note, my Mom passed away after 7 years of decline due to Alzheimer’s Disease, and my father is currently in a VA Memory Care facility with a diagnosis of vascular dementia. Their journey has been my journey. The cost to the entire family is astronomical both emotionally and financially! Anything we can do to prevent, slow or mitigate the effects of cognitive decline is of incredible value.

As a rehab professional, I have witnessed the amazing ability we have to enhance the physical performance of normal individuals via sports medicine, to prevent injuries in active aging adults, and to rehabilitate individuals with deficits towards fairly high levels of function. I now believe we have the opportunity to do the same in brain health! There is an opportunity to build brain performance enhancement programs for those who wish to perform at a higher level cognitively, and also a desperate need to build strong preventative, wellness and rehabilitation programs for those concerned about a decline in their clients and/or patients.

It is evident from the literature that there exists a very strong body-brain connection. It is my hope to augment the skills of rehabilitation professionals to add other cognitive fitness assessments and interventions and build a multi-modal approach to brain fitness for ALL populations.

What is one important thing you are working on now and where can people learn more about it?
We are working with a biochemist & a neuroscientist on a Mind-Body program that applies a multi-modal approach to cognitive fitness.  We will be presenting our initial plan at the American Physical Therapy Assn – Private Practice Section  conference in New Orleans in November of this year.

What are 1-2 key things you’d like every person to understand regarding his/ her own brain and mind that you think is commonly misrepresented or not addressed in the popular media?
Primarily, that physical exercise, if performed at a level and intensity supported by evidence, can not only benefit our bodies but also our minds.

Where do you see clear “low-hanging fruit” to enhance behavioral and brain health based on neuroscience and innovation?
I see “low hanging fruit” in the application of multi-modal brain fitness programs supervised by current health & fitness providers in order to target multiple high risk populations.

Finally, what do YOU do to stay sharp?
Exercise daily, take group fitness classes that are challenging, take supplements, read voraciously, teach at the university level, sleep soundly & consciously work to manage stress.

2013 SharpBrains SummitThis conversation is part of a new interview series with Speakers and Participants in the upcoming 2013 SharpBrains Virtual Summit (September 19-20th). You can register with a 20% discount using promotional code: sharp2020

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