Friday, February 23, 2024
Friday, February 23, 2024
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Boxing Classes For Parkinson’s Patients

Rowing Against The Current Of Parkinsons Disease

Parkinson’s Disease Exercises: Boxing with Strength

There I was, 63 years old, sitting in my 1997 Hudson single behind the start line for the 2015 Head of the Madawaska regatta in eastern Ontario. Cold rain was teeming down as we waited to be called to the start. I had promised myself months earlier that I would race again some day. It had been ten years since I last raced. But this was no ordinary challenge. It wasnt enough to attain the necessary fitness to race, nor the control of balance and timing in the hull that was only 11 inches wide at its widest point. This was all out war against a disease that was robbing me of my physical being, Parkinsons disease. This was my Everest.

In the summer of 2011, I went to see the doctor because I was having trouble handwriting. I had also stopped swinging my right arm when I walked, which I had initially attributed to a stressful job. The doctor didnt like the way I looked and sent me for an assessment at the Ottawa Hospital Neurology Clinic. After some seemingly unusual tests, I was told that I did indeed have Parkinsons disease.

At first, the disease did not seem to have a very profound effect, but eventually my gait and fine muscle control became impaired. Everything I read emphasized the importance of exercise in coping with Parkinsons disease. I began to exercise seriously, both in the gym under the guidance of my physiotherapist, and by doing the two physical activities I loved the most cycling and rowing.

Data Sources And Searches

Eight electronic databases were searched using the following terms and synonyms: Parkinsons, Parkinson disease, PD, idiopathic primary parkinsonism, primary parkinsonism, shaking palsy, boxing, combat sports, punch, pugilism, amateur boxing from inception up until August 14, 2019. The databases were searched with comparable strategies using terms and search language adapted to the individual database format. The Medline search strategy is listed in Appendix 2 . Reference lists of the included studies were hand-searched and experts in the field of movement disorders were consulted.

Q: How Did You First Become Involved In Rock Steady Boxing

Dr. Leder: I am a movement disorder specialist and I primarily see patients. During my fellowship I became aware of the positive effects that exercise has on the PD population. During many years in private practice, it became apparent that insurance, including Medicare, does not cover enough physical therapy to actually help a PD patient throughout the year. For years I was trying to determine how to deliver an exercise program to the PD population that would be affordable and accessible to all. I first learned about Rock Steady Boxing from a 60 Minutes segment with Leslie Stahl and I knew right away that it was the program I needed to start in my community.

I became certified as a Rock Steady Boxing expert by taking a three-day course at the Rock Steady Boxing boot camp. When we started the program at NYIT, I personally ran some of the classes. I no longer actually run the classes because I have handpicked fitness professionals who can perform the job better than I can, and I continue to oversee, organize, help and supervise the program. The unique aspect of having the program at the university is that we accept donations and grants and therefore we can offer scholarships to boxers who are unable to pay for the class. No one is turned away for financial reasons.

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Parkinsons Patients Fight Back In Rock Steady Boxing Program

Three times a week, Susan Vittone, a 5-foot-4 former kindergarten teacher, makes the 45-mile trek from her home in Mexico, Mo., to Columbia for a workout class. Unlike most women her age, Susans workout includes lacing up a pair of gloves and whacking a heavy bag suspended from the ceiling in MU Health Cares Human Performance Institute .

I never thought I would ever be boxing, she said with a laugh. I am not sure if my mother would approve.

But Vittone knows her mother would be in her corner knowing the critical link between boxing and her good health.

Vittone was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease in December 2015. She described her initial reaction as devastation. A friend suggested that she watch a video about a specialized workout called Rock Steady Boxing. Her neurologist said she should give it a try.

The benefits have been invaluable for Vittone, who credits the program for keeping her symptoms at bay.

The class begins like any other workout for a mature group, with warmups that focus on balance and agility. Then, its time to box. The participants dont hit each other. They pound heavy bags and the smaller speed bags.

1, 2, 3 2, 3, 4.

The trainer yells numbers that correlate to punches a jab, hook or uppercut, thrown with the right or left hand. Then, with loud voices, the group repeats the numbers. Its an effort to keep the brain active while making large movements. The yelling is therapy, too.

Q: Are All Rock Steady Boxing Courses The Same Do You Have Advice For People Looking For Classes On How To Find A Good One


Dr. Leder: All programs are not the same. The instructors and the class format can vary quite a bit. Most often, people will simply go to the one that is closest to where they live, but they might want to trial a class before they sign up to make sure they like the instructor and it feels safe for them.

Dr. Ellis: In my experience, there is a lot of variability in the quality of the classes. In order to become an instructor in the program training is required, which is great, but the variability in instructors still remains. Some instructors come from the world of boxing and fitness others, from the medical world.

It is important for anyone who teaches these classes to have some expertise in PD. Understanding elements of PD such as freezing of gait, postural control deficits, fall risk and on/off periods, that are unique to PD can make the class safe and more effective for people with PD. Invariably, a program overseen by movement disorders specialist like Dr. Leder will be enhanced by her PD expertise.

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How Boxing Benefits People With Parkinsons

Non-contact Parkinsons boxing programs, like Rock Steady Boxing, provide education and student-specific training to help people with Parkinsons improve their gross motor skills, balance confidence, and mental sharpness. The high-intensity exercise and endurance training performed in boxing also help Parkinsons patients improve their crawling, hopping, jumping, and walking skills.

Senior Star: In Your Corner For The Fight Against Parkinsons

Some Senior Star communities offer a program called Rock Steady Boxing. This non-contact physical therapy class is specifically designed to help people living with Parkinsons disease. Jessie Ritter, the program director at Senior Star Dublin, teaches seniors with the disease a new way to fight back. Since the program began, Jessie has witnessed the neuroprotective benefits of boxing therapy first hand. She has seen people in their 90s feel stronger and more empowered as a direct result of their participation in the Rock Steady Boxing class.

At Senior Star, Rock Steady Boxing is just one of the many ways were determined to offer seniors a variety of innovative opportunities to support holistic health and overall well-being. We call them our Signature Programs, and were positive youll find something that inspires you. Contact us today for more information or learn more about the vibrant lifestyle options we offer.

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Q: What Are The Advantages Of Rock Steady Boxing For People With Pd Any Disadvantages Safety Concerns

Dr. Leder: One of the main advantages of Rock Steady is that there is a high compliance rate. It is fun and social and therefore patients enjoy coming. The more they come the better they feel. There are two different types of classes. One is for patients who are not at risk of falling and the other is for patients who either are at risk of falling or actively fall. When the class is in person , we always have medical student volunteers who are there to watch and guard those who may be at risk of falling. They are also able to take blood pressures when someone feels lightheaded

The main disadvantage in our program is that more patients wish to come to a class than we can accommodate! Otherwise, there are no more safety concerns as compared to attending a typical gym perhaps less, because the program caters to a special population and has safety guards in place to protect against falling, which a regular gym does not.

Dr. Ellis: It is important to note that it is the components of boxing that may help symptoms of PD. We know that the components of exercise that can help PD include strength training, aerobic training and balance training, among others. These elements can be accomplished with many different exercise modalities and routines, with boxing potentially as one of them.

What Are The Benefits Of Rock Steady Boxing

Fighting Parkinson’s with Boxing
  • Enables people to fight Parkinsons symptoms through a non-contact, boxing-style fitness program
  • Improves quality of life and sense of self-worth
  • Moves your body in a number of motions while continuously changing the routine as you progress through the workout
  • Provides a social outlet to meet people and make friends within the community

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What Our Community Is Saying

The workouts are interesting, challenging, high tempo and most of all FUN!

I can say without a doubt that joining this program has changed my life.

We felt welcomed from our first class. B4H provides a supportive atmosphere and positive environment.

Ive benefited from increased energy and a renewed sense of hope.

We also look forward to connecting with our fellow boxers on a social level.

Thank you

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Researchers Study Potential Benefits Of Boxing For Parkinsons Patients

CHICAGO For years, researchers have documented the therapeutic benefits of exercise for patients with neurological and movement disorders. Now, a pilot study shows that boxing may ease the symptoms of Parkinsons.

About six years ago, retired firefighter Catherine Renar was having difficulty walking and developed pain in her feet.

I was trying going from doctor to doctor, trying to figure out what was going on and nobody could quite figure it out, she said.

It was Parkinsons disease. The diagnosis for Renar, a former athlete, was something that redefined who she was as a person.

I have come to terms with I am not as physically strong as I once was.

She took up boxing as part of a Parkinsons Foundation-funded pilot study on its impact on patients.

The program was modified specifically for people with stage two Parkinsonswhen patients have symptoms like tremors, rigidity and difficulty walking.

No ones going to hit you in the head, and we dont expect you to hit anybody else in the head. So, that is really the difference here. And although its a basic difference, its an important difference, said Dr. Deborah Hall, director of the Parkinsons Disease Center of Excellence.

The boxers were then followed for three months.

They also found decreases in anxiety, sleep problems and pain.

Every time I left there I was in a better mood, said Renar.

She says she felt a difference after each session not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.

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We Love You Phil Bozzo

One of our founding boxers has passed away, but left a powerful message…

…”I’ve found a whole new group of friends at the age of 85. I’ve lost 20 pounds, and gained more than words could ever say.” When Phil passed, he was wearing one of his Rock Steady Boxing shirts. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Battenberg’s Martial Arts & Fitness – where Phil trained, and where his legacy can help other boxers in the future!

Cohort Description And Type Of Study


This cohort consisted of 98 PD patients who voluntarily enrolled in a private BT clinic. All participants enrolled in that BT clinic were included in the study, which meets the definition of a longitudinal cohort study by STROBE guidelines , to which this study adhered. All methods were carried out in accordance with relevant guidelines and regulations via a Northwestern University IRB-approved protocol.

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Boxing For Parkinsons: A Total Workout From Head To Toe

Hitting heavy bags builds power and strength. Punching speed bags improves hand-eye coordination and posture. Doing footwork drills improve balance and agility. Tossing medicine balls improves reaction time.

Other intense exercise activities like running on a treadmill or cycling have been shown to slow the progression of Parkinsons. But running on a treadmill or cycling wont do much for your upper body strength, agility, or coordination. And neither have the cool factor going to a boxing class confers.

What Our Boxers Have To Say:

I have been a participant in the Rock Steady Boxing program at Forest Hill Health & Fitness for 5 years, Not only is the program lead by Tyler, Debbie and Don important to me physically, the emotional support is equally important. The classes are challenging and professionally planned providing exercise to delay the symptoms of PD. Personally I have had my medicationg regime decreased since starting RSB. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to participate in RSB!

My journey living with Parkinsons Disease began in 2015 with my diagnosis, which I greeted with disbelief, despair and denial. It was not until I started coming to RSB classes at FHHF that I began to feel better about myself and make progress. Our coaches are outstanding! They plays killer music, and provides a new, fun, and rigorous workout every class that challenges us. The classes are always working to improving our athleticism, cardio, core, balance and cognitive condition. The results have been spectacular. I am more confident, my balance and flexibility have improved, my memory and cognition are noticeably better as well. RSB has introduced me to a great new support system and a wonderful group of people who share camaraderie, and friendship.

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Vividly Visualize A Boxer In Front Of You

Even when youre not using a mirror, you should be sparring with an opponent in your mind. Visualize him: How far is he from you? Where is his body relative to you? At what height is his head? I have my fighters imagine a boxer in front of them in the middle of the ring, but it has to be vivid. It requires mental focus, Aaron says. To make sure my fighters have a vivid imaginary boxer in front of them, Ill ask them, What color are his shorts? If they cant answer right away, it means theyre not focused on the practice, and they need to get their head back in the game.

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Bt Exercises And Performance Measurements

Boxing classes help people fight Parkinsons Disease

On initial evaluation, each participant was screened for details regarding their PD diagnosis, including symptoms, self-reported frequency of falls, other medical conditions and comorbidities, and medications. Each participant was then matched with a trainer, who provided one-on-one assessment and coaching throughout the duration of the program.

Twice per week, each participant worked with their trainer on specific boxing-related exercises aimed at improving overall coordination, gait, and balance. The program consists of hundreds of exercises/skill sets, broken down into three main phases. Phase one began with mastering a set position, which established basic balance and holding a specific posture, with feet a little farther apart than shoulder width. In phase two, boxing footwork was practiced, wherein forward, side, and backward steps were made with increasing speed, based out of the set position and according to specific landmarks on the floor. The third phase involved mastering a series of punches, both in the air and at a bag, timed to maximize force based on proper balance, posture, and steps. Each phase had to be mastered before starting the next phase. Progress through each of the three phases was tailored to the physical condition of that participant, based on the judgment of their trainer.

  • 1.

    participant was unable to perform the activity at all, even with help

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    How Exercise May Slow Down Parkinsons Disease Progression

    Exercise is thought to help slow down or possibly even reverse the progression of Parkinsons disease by causing neurological changes in your brain.

    have found that exercise may have neuroprotective effects on the brain by increasing your bodys production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and growth factors that promote the growth of brain cells.

    Other have found that exercise might limit the depletion of dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra. Exercise might also enhance your bodys ability to adapt to altered levels of dopamine and another neurotransmitter called glutamate.

    What Does A Parkinson’s Boxing Class Do

    Our exciting and fun boxing classes are a great way to keep your body moving. With an emphasis on fun movement and balance, weve designed these classes to help with gait, strength, agility, movement and stability. Parkinsons Disease affects the transmission of impulses from nerve cells in the brain to muscles this means that any exercise that challenges both the brain and joints can help maintain mobility, muscle strength and independence.

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    Congressman Higgins Announces The Boxing Therapy For Parkinsons Access Act Of 2022

    Congressman Brian Higgins joined local veterans to announce the Boxing Therapy for Parkinsons Access Act of 2022 . The bipartisan bill, introduced by Rep. Higgins and Congressman Darin LaHood , directs the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide coverage for boxing-based therapy classes to veterans diagnosed with Parkinsons disease and other movement disorders.

    Many veterans in Western New York and across the country struggle to manage Parkinsons diseases and similar movement disorders, while maintaining an independent and mobile lifestyle, said Congressman Higgins. Boxing can provide veterans and other patients with an innovative form of physical therapy that can slow the progress of the disease and improve their quality of life. Currently, it is not covered under VA benefits. The Boxing Therapy for Parkinsons Access Act will ensure that all veterans have access to this therapy to help them reclaim their lives from Parkinsons disease.

    It didnt take long for Congressman Higgins to go to work on the PD issue, said former Congressman Jack Quinn. My brother Jeff and I showed him a 15-minute video, at lunch, in the Capitol. Just a few months later, here he is with bi-partisan legislation to help provide hope for thousands of our Veterans. Special thanks to Congressman Darin LaHood, son of Secretary Ray LaHood, for recognizing the non-partisan nature of this important legislation.

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