Meet the Team

Consistent and frequent physical therapy is one of the few currently available treatments that’s been proven to provide benefits at all ages with the potential to delay disease progression. However, traditional physical therapy techniques do not help patients with Duchenne and can actually do permanent damage to muscles. For that reason, it’s vital that physical therapists have a thorough understanding of the disease and the knowledge to deliver appropriate treatments based on the current evidence.

Occupational therapy is also a critical part of care for individuals with Duchenne to ensure that they develop and maintain the skills needed for daily living, working, and independence. The variability of the disease per individual requires a specialized, constantly updated set of skills and knowledge for both physical therapists and occupational therapists. That’s why CureDuchenne’s Professional Development Program trains physical therapists and occupational therapists through online and in-person classes, reaching clinics and professionals around the world.

Jennifer Valdes, PT and Doug Levine, PT are the two pioneers of the CureDuchenne Professional Development Team. They keep the Professional Program consistently at the forefront of the field by evolving new methods and techniques to provide optimal care, and we’d like to tell you a little more about them!

Jennifer Valdes, PT

Jennifer Wallace Valdes, PT

Jennifer graduated with honors from Chapman University where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology and a Master of Physical Therapy in 2002. She originally developed the techniques taught in CureDuchenne’s Professional Program out of necessity to treat her very first patient with Duchenne as a professional: Debra Miller’s then 5-year-old boy, Hawken. In fact, Jennifer’s assessment of Hawken and referral to confirm a Duchenne diagnosis ended a diagnostic odyssey for Hawken’s parents. Since then, Jennifer has experience in pediatrics with an emphasis on muscular dystrophy. She is a frequent presenter at Duchenne conferences and the Academy of Pediatric PT Annual conference. She is the owner of Duchenne Therapy Network, where she continues to practice and provide evaluation, treatment and consultations for those with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy.

“Everything that I learned from treating Hawken, reading countless publications and speaking with his doctors taught me enough to start an educational program for other physical therapists. The intent was to educate others on treatment so that they wouldn’t have to be as lost as I was when I met my first patient with Duchenne. I didn’t want others to have to put in the hundreds of hours of research to find out what I could teach them in a few hours.”

Jennifer Wallace Valdes, PT
Doug Levine, PT

Doug Levine, PT

Doug graduated from the University of Texas with Honors in 1994 and completed his Master of Science degree in Physical Therapy at Texas Woman’s University in Houston in 1997. He immediately found his niche in pediatric physiotherapy and began focusing on Duchenne muscular dystrophy in 2006. As the owner of Growing Places Therapy Services, PLLC, Doug has served thousands of children and their families, providing pediatric physical, occupational and speech therapies in the home, school and daycare settings in Austin and surrounding areas.  Inspired by the clear potential of the program and the ability to spread his knowledge to help more people with Duchenne, Doug joined the CureDuchenne Professional Program in 2009. Along with spearheading live demonstrations for families and professionals all over the world, his expertise has become an integral part of the CureDuchenne Professional Program’s curriculum.

“My passion to help the Duchenne community is simple. It stems from the recognition that we are all human beings wanting the most for our children and ourselves. I have children of my own that are no different than anyone else’s, whether that person’s child lives here in the United States or a small village in India. If my son was affected by Duchenne, and someone out there had the ability to help him, I would hope they would do everything they could possibly do to help my child. I have the ability to help, so I do in every way that I can.”

Doug Levine, PT

In addition to training, the duo utilizes their knowledge to expand clinical research for patients with Duchenne. The time, effort, and passion Doug and Jennifer have put into developing the study protocol has inspired collaboration with therapists in academic and research settings. They are also the driving force in implementing a clinical trial to investigate the effects of exercise on boys with Duchenne.  The potential effects of the knowledge that may be gained with this clinical trial will impact physical therapy practice in the management of patients with Duchenne significantly. We’re lucky to have these innovative minds working on behalf of the entire Duchenne community!

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