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International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society
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        VOLUME 28, ISSUE 1 • March, 2024.  Full issue »

Commemorating the Legacy of Ruth Hagestuen

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our esteemed colleague, Ruth Hagestuen, a beacon of hope and innovation in global healthcare and the management of movement disorders. 

Ruth's professional journey began as an Air Force nurse during the Vietnam War. She then spent more than a decade developing and delivering community health programs in Madagascar and Bangladesh. She passionately provided care and support to those in need, always prioritizing the well-being of the communities she served with expert, culturally sensitive care. 

After returning to the United States, Ruth dedicated her expertise to the field of Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. She began her impactful work at the Struthers Parkinson’s Center, where she assumed leadership roles that set the stage for her later accomplishments. Her visionary approach led her to become the National Program Director of what was then known as the National Parkinson Foundation. During her tenure, she implemented the pioneering Centers of Excellence model, which has been adopted by 64 leading movement disorders clinics worldwide, setting new standards in expertise for patient care and support. 

Ruth was also a cornerstone in developing the Allied Team Training Program (ATTP), drawing on the innovative education models she and her colleagues fostered at Struthers. The ATTP has since evolved into the premier foundational training program for allied health clinicians specializing in movement disorders, educating thousands of clinicians globally and elevating the standard of care for patients worldwide. 

Within the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), Ruth's legacy continued as the founding chair of the Health Professionals Special Interest Group (HP SIG). Alongside Prof. Meg Morris of La Trobe University, she fostered an interdisciplinary community platform for rehab therapists, nurses, advanced practice providers, geneticists, psychologists, dietitians, and other healthcare professionals. Under her guidance, the HP SIG flourished, growing to more than 2,000 members, thanks to the foundational principles she established in 2012. Her leadership and vision have left an indelible mark, inspiring those who follow in her footsteps. 

For those who never had the opportunity to meet and work with Ruth in person, here’s a lovely interview, conducted by HP SIG member Mariella Graziano:



“Ruth was a wonderful leader in the movement disorder health professional community, and it was a privilege to co-chair the MDS HP SIG with her, and a challenge to move into a leadership role and continue the work she had pioneered. Ruth was thoroughly grounded, and ensuring people living with Parkinson’s received the best care was the heart of her motivation.” 

— Victor McConvey, OAM RN MACN

“Ruth pioneered the inclusion of nurses and allied health professionals in MDS education and promoted research and consumer engagement. She was a visionary, very skilled at bringing people together and leading a joint plan to grow an international collaboration to ensure that people living with Parkinson's and other movement disorders could benefit from a multidisciplinary, evidence-based approach to treatment and prevention.” 

— Meg E. Morris, PhD, FACP

“Ruth was always compassionate and approachable, and the perfect coach and mentor. She had a passion for improving the expertise of allied health clinicians to improve care for those living with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders. That passion continues to pay dividends today within the MDS, as her DNA is imbued within many of the educational opportunities and leadership initiatives for allied health clinicians in our organization.”

— John M. Dean MA CCC-SLP, Chair, Health Professionals Special Interest Group

“Ruth was instrumental in the consolidation and sustainability of the MDS HP SIG. She saw the subgroup as the platform to share information and to develop multidisciplinary teams for chronic conditions in the world. Ruth was a leader in promoting research-based practice and communication across different disciplines. Her empathy and experience led her to choose the right person for the right role in a team. Her leadership qualities, kindness, and sense of humour will be missed by those who had the privilege of working with her.”

— Mariella Graziano, BSc (Hons)


Read more Moving Along:

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