Health and Wellness Institute

The mission of the LIU Brooklyn Health and Wellness Institute is to provide activities that promote good health and that encourage wellness behaviors that reduce health disparities and improve the quality of life for members of the Campus community and the community at large.

At LIU Brooklyn, we give back to the community by offering numerous health-related programs that provide quality care and preventive services for residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. Whether you are interested in learning CPR, want to lose weight, want to stop smoking or just need to get out and exercise, we have a program for you. Come and meet your neighbors in a setting that offers supportive instruction and care.

Adapted Aquatics Program

Multiple Sclerosis Adapted Aquatics Program

The Adapted Aquatics Program for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a collaborative community partnership for wellness, originally piloted during the summer of 2008. The Aquatics Program co-hosts this aquatic therapy program in the accessible, eight-lane swimming pool located in the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center (WRAC). An interdisciplinary educational approach links faculty members and students from occupational therapy, physical therapy, sports sciences with the WRAC Aquatics staff, all of whom provide the necessary support both in and outside of the pool. The Program aids individuals living with MS, who are already actively engaged with the New York City chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and who require more assistance than the chapter’s community-based aquatics programs provide. The Program is called SWEAT (Swimming for Wellness, Exercise and Aquatic Therapy) and participants are able to receive the benefits of an individualized, water-based therapy program to support their physical, social and emotional well-being.

The Program was conceived and is coordinated by Dr. Anne Scott of the Brooklyn Campus’ Division of Occupational Therapy, with JoEllen Zembruski-Ruple, CTRS, program director of Recreation and Rehabilitation Services of the New York City chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and with Fran Clifford, aquatics director from the NYC Chinatown YMCA. This team is rounded out by Dr. Yasser Salem of the Division of Physical Therapy and Professor Eugene Spatz, of the Division of Sports Sciences.

Initial funding for the Program was obtained through a Wellness Grant initiated by Brooklyn Campus Provost Gale Stevens Haynes, with matching funds from the New York City chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Subsequent funding has been received from the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation Quality of Life Grants, for ongoing programming and support for specialized equipment.

The grant links faculty and staff members from Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus and pilots an accessible adaptive aquatics demonstration program for people with MS. The WRAC aquatics director, Bryna Gutner coordinates the facility resources with Professor Spatz, who developed a new class SPS 102 -Adapted Aquatics, that was offered for the first time in Spring 2009. Students enrolled in SPS 102 assist clients with MS on a one-to-one basis, as they learn principles of therapeutic aquatics programming with instructor Fran Clifford, who offers many years of experience in specialized aquatics. Occupational therapy students provide evaluation to review the efficacy of the Program, in conjunction with their capstone research course. In the initial Summer 2008 pilot, clients with MS reported an increased level of life satisfaction and enhanced functional ability to engage in their daily activities.

To join the Program or for more information, please contact Please include the following information in your e-mail: Name, address, telephone number.

Lupus Adapted Aquatics Program

Blending an ancient art with a new approach, ai chi or aquatic tai chi is being used in an innovative program to support people with lupus. The benefits of tai chi are well known for arthritis, high blood pressure and the elderly-at risk for falls. Aquatic ai chi combines the harmony of tai chi with the healing properties of water. Ai Chi is a unique blend of tai chi forms, water fitness and yogic breathing that helps center the individual physically and emotionally. The gentle movement in the water enhances flexibility, posture, balance, relaxation and sense of wellbeing. Until now, it has not been tapped as an approach to wellness for people with lupus. The program is offered in the fall semester – October through December on a weekly basis.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which disproportionately affects women of color. They often live in the shadows of life experiencing intermittent pain, joint inflammation and “flares”, with severe fatigue and limited ability to engage in their everyday activities. A new program at Long Island University has been designed to offer support and to research the potential benefits of ai chi on reducing pain, fatigue and to increase engagement in daily activity. Although the program has only started some clients report a renewed sense of vigor and feel empowered to take on more of life’s challenges, while living with a chronic illness.

This is a collaborative effort with the Lupus Cooperative of LCNY-Brooklyn Division of the SLE Lupus Foundation and Long Island University’s Health and Wellness Institute, which seeks to “promote good health and to encourage wellness behaviors that reduce health disparities and improve the quality of life for members of the Campus and community.” This program links a Sports Science Course, in which students learn how to use adapted aquatics, while working with clients with lupus. The program was developed by an occupational therapist, Dr. Anne Scott and a physical therapist, Dr. Yasser Salem in collaboration with Fran Clifford of the Chinatown YMCA, a specialist in adapted aquatics. Dr. Jane Katz of John Jay College, a noted educator, author, and world-class competitive and long distance swimmer specialist served as consultant to the project funded by an LIU Provost’s Wellness Grant.

Research related to the program has been presented at a national level conference (The Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association) held in New Orleans, LA, in February 2011 and is accepted for a presentation at an international level conference (The World Congress of Physical Therapy) to be held in Amsterdam, Holland in June 2011. It has also been featured on the website of the S. L. E. Lupus Foundation

Contact: Dr. Anne Scott or Fran Clifford or Tayumika Zurita of

Senior Citizens Platinum Sneakers Program

The Platinum Sneakers program was introduced in the fall of 2007, to offer senior citizens, free of charge, the opportunity to participate in physical activities through socially oriented aquatic and exercise programs. The activities are designed to improve flexibility, increase physical strength, stimulate mental awareness and support overall general health.

This program was initiated by Bryna Gutner, director of wellness and aquatics, and by Nantesha Chen, NSCA-CPT, NASM-CPT. It currently is overseen by Wellness Center fitness and aquatics staff members.

Workouts are conducted in a state-of-the-art facility, equipped with the latest cardiovascular equipment, strength machines and free weights. In addition, a broad range of equipment is used to perform cutting-edge research.

Taught in a group setting, Platinum Sneakers is a six-week program, with sessions taking place three times a week. Each class offers yoga, aqua aerobics, cardio and resistance/strength training, and is supervised by highly qualified instructors who have extensive experience in working with the senior population. Past enrollments include local residents, members of assisted living facilities and participants of senior citizens activity centers. We encourage everyone 65 or older, who is looking to maintain a healthy and independent lifestyle, to participate in this program.

For more information about this program, contact:, or call 718-780-4052.

Please include the following information in your e-mail: Name, address, telephone number and date of birth (month, date and year).

Parkinsons Fitness Program

According the National Parkinson Foundation, “Parkinson’s Disease affects both men and women in almost equal numbers. It shows no social, ethnic, economic or geographic boundaries. In the United States, it is estimated that 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, joining the 1 million Americans who currently have Parkinson's disease. While the condition usually develops after the age of 65, 15 percent of those diagnosed are under 50.”

This program is a group exercise-training program that focuses on maintaining and improving endurance, balance, strength and flexibility in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Dr. David Spierer, Division of Athletic Training, Health & Exercise, and Dr. Yasser Salem, Department of Physical Therapy, are the major leaders in this program.

Classes were developed in collaboration with the Brooklyn Parkinson Group, a chapter of the National Parkinson Foundation.

•  View our program brochure

For more information contact: Please include the following information in your e-mail: Name, address, telephone number and referral source (friend, physician, etc.)


School of Health Professions