Parkinson Foundation Awards Grant to Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute to Support ParkinSINGS Choir

June 24, 2020

The Parkinson’s Foundation has awarded a grant to Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute to support the ParkinSINGS choir and its work with Parkinson’s patients.

The Parkinson’s Foundation Community Grant Review Committee was impressed with the ParkinSINGS proposal and wrote that Parkinson’s Foundation donors would be proud to support the work.

The ParkinSINGS Choir is comprised of people with Parkinson’s disease who sing under the direction of Alyson Chananie, a speech language pathologist, and musical director and pianist Frank Saverino. Studies have shown that singing programs have the potential to increase vocal loudness and improve respiratory muscle strength in people with the disease.

The choir met in person, but has been meeting virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roger P. Rossi, D.O., medical director of the Parkinson’s Disease Program at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, thanked the Parkinson’s Foundation for enabling the choir to continue its important work for a second year with the $18,000 grant. The Parkinson’s Foundation provided funding for the choir’s first year as well.

Dr. Rossi said singing can help people with Parkinson’s disease improve movement and coordination, improve lung capacity, and lower stress and anxiety.

“ParkinSINGS is extremely helpful to our patients and is one of the programs that improves our patients’ quality of life,” Dr. Rossi said. Dr. Rossi is board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation as well as sports medicine.

Choir members have said they recognize the value of exercising their lungs and vocal chords and also enjoy the camaraderie of coming together with others also living with Parkinson’s disease.

Sara Cuccurullo, M.D., medical director of JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, said each Parkinson’s disease patient is assessed and given a comprehensive program that may address swallowing, speech, diet and other aspects of Parkinson’s disease. The choir is one of several programs that JFK Johnson offers to people with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.

“We want every person with Parkinson’s disease to live the best life possible,” Dr. Cuccurullo said. “We’re thankful for the Parkinson’s Foundation for supporting our choir. Patients really enjoy the program and benefit from singing.”

Janice P. Dibling MS,CCC/SLP, Manager of Acute and Inpatient Rehabilitation Speech Pathology, said the choir is valuable for patients.

“The choir has proven to be a creative and therapeutic outlet for individuals with Parkinson’s disease,” Dibling said. “Singing together has promoted social interaction, encouraged self-expression and enhanced quality of life.”

Through support of the Parkinson’s Foundation, ParkinSINGS is free and open to all community members. For more information, call the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at (732) 321-7063.

About Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute
Offering New Jersey’s most comprehensive rehabilitation services, the JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute is a 94-bed facility located in Edison, N.J. serving residents of the tristate area for more than 40 years. Its mission is simple: provide quality rehabilitation for adults and children living with disabilities to obtain optimal function and independence within an accepting community. JFK Johnson Rehabilitation has developed programs in specialties that include brain injury, stroke rehabilitation, orthopedics/musculoskeletal and sports injuries, fitness, cardiac rehabilitation, women’s health, pediatrics and a prosthetics and orthotics lab. It is the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department of the Hackensack Meridian Medical School at Seton Hall University and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. To learn more, visit

About Hackensack Meridian JFK Medical Center
Serving residents of central New Jersey for more than 50 years, JFK Medical Center offers a complete array of advanced services in its 498-bed facility located in Edison, N.J. With more than 1,000 affiliated physicians, this academic medical center offers a complete spectrum of advanced services including general and specialized surgery, cardiac care, maternity and pediatrics, oncology, imaging, breast center, sleep center, wound care, robotic surgery, emergency medicine, weight loss surgery, radiology, long-term care and assisted living. It is home to the world-renowned Neuroscience Institute that diagnoses and treats brain, spine and nervous system disorders. To learn more, visit