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The Neurodegenerative Networking Group (NDNG) is growing! The NDNG leadership is expanding in order to fulfill its mission to provide a platform for facilitating cutting edge rehabilitation research and the translation of evidence into practice related to neurodegenerative diseases, including, but not limited to multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease (PD), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Here is a closer look at the Executive Committee of the NDNG:

Deborah Backus

Deborah Backus

Chair: Deborah Backus, PT, PhD, FACRM

Dr. Backus is Director of Multiple Sclerosis Research at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Her research agenda has a broad scope and includes facilitating pharmacologic, device-related clinical trials, and other non-rehabilitation interventions for MS. Her specific research focus in the Eula C. and Andrew C. Carlos MS Rehabilitation and Wellness Program at Shepherd Center is on evaluating the effects of activity-based interventions to improve neuroplasticity, function, health, and quality of life for people with MS. Debbie has been a member of ACRM for over 10 years and currently serves as ACRM President-Elect.


Patricia Heyn

Patricia Heyn

Chair-Elect: Patricia C. Heyn, PhD

Dr. Heyn is an Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She has been a member of ACRM since 2003. Her research developments include investigations related to the risk and protective factors for cognitive decline and neurodegeneration. She is especially interested in understanding the effects of disability on dementia development. She has great expertise in activity-induced neurocognitive function and lifestyle behavior medicine for brain health.



Shilpa Krishnan

Secretary: Shilpa Krishnan, PT, PhD

Dr. Krishnan is a postdoctoral fellow in Patient Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) for Elderly at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Her research focuses on PCOR methods, comparing effectiveness of rehabilitation and functional outcomes following stroke across various settings, management of caregiver burden following neurological conditions, and prevention and early detection of secondary complications following spinal cord injury such as pressure ulcers, pneumonia, urinary tract infections etc.


Hannes Devos

Hannes Devos

Treasurer: Hannes Devos, PT, PhD

Dr. Devos is an Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy and Director of the Augusta University Simulator Lab. He is interested in the use of virtual reality and eye tracking technology in neurorehabilitation. His expertise revolves around driving, mobility, visual scanning, and pupillometry in Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Huntington’s disease.



Jake Sosnoff

Jake Sosnoff

Communications Officer: Jacob Sosnoff, PhD

Dr. Sosnoff is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Motor Control Research Laboratory in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health of the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Sosnoff’s research focuses on mobility and balance impairment in persons with multiple sclerosis and other clinical populations. As a founding member of the International MS Falls Prevention Research Network, he is an international expert in the predictors, prevention and consequences of falls in persons with MS.


Three NEW NDNG Task Forces

The NDNG has three new task forces which are up and running and need new members! Please contact the appropriate task force chair listed below if you are interested in additional information/joining.

Psychosocial Task Force

 Chair: Cherie Lovelace, PharmD, JD has been a research scientist for more than 30 years. She worked for the FDA for 5 years, focusing on safety and effectiveness of novel medications; she has been employed by Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Novartis, Solvay and Avanir in Regulatory and Medical roles supporting new product development. Her primary focus at Avanir for the past five years has been on PBA (pseudobulbar affect) / emotional lability in patients with neurologic conditions and expanded research for Nuedexta, particularly in agitation and treatment of depression. Her goal in working with the NDNG is to evolve understanding of emotional needs and medical solutions for patients with neurodegenerative conditions.


Education Committee Task Force

Co-Chair, Anna DeJoya, PT, DSc, NCS is the Specialty Rehabilitation program manager at TIRR Memorial Hermann.  She received her Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2012.  She is board certified by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) as a Neurologic Clinical Specialist since 2008.  Anna has been treating patients across the continuum since 1996.  Her current role includes coordinating, evaluating and developing the growth of TIRR Memorial Hermann and the Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Network specialty rehabilitation program.  She develops, assesses, and coordinates the clinical and educational components of the specialty rehabilitation program which includes neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, among others. Anna has a variety of experience in teaching both in the clinical and academic setting as well as in the community, including state and national conferences.

Co-Chair, Michele York, PhD, ABPP-CN is an Associate Professor and the Section Head of Neuropsychology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. She is also the Neuropsychologist for the Parkinson’s Disease Research Education and Clinical Center at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Michele has been a member of ACRM since 2014. Dr. York provides neuropsychological services to a wide variety of patient populations including Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, Parkinson’s disease, and the secondary parkinsonisms, ischemic vascular disease, multiple sclerosis, and attention deficit disorder. Dr. York is involved in ongoing research projects include cognitive rehabilitative strategies for Parkinson’s disease patients, the longitudinal study of Alzheimer’s disease, and the cognitive and behavioral effects of deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease.


Awards Committee Task Force Chair

Chair, Mark Hirsch, PhD is a Senior Scientist, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Director, Resident Research Education (PM&R) and PM&R lab, Carolinas Rehabilitation, Charlotte, N.C., USA. He has been at Carolinas Rehabilitation since 2004 and together with Dr. Sanjay Iyer, he developed the Parkinson Network, which in 2011 received funding from the Park Foundation and became known as RENEW Carolinas Parkinson Initiative ( His research interests are implementation science and patient/provider collaboration.  Dr. Hirsch, a retired competitive formation team ballroom dancer, works with doctors and therapists who want to give patients a more active role in their health care and he promotes greater cooperation in the health care system. He envisions a system he calls ‘participatory healthcare.’


ACRM Neurodegenerative Diseases Networking Group