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Do Boxers Get Parkinson’s Disease

What About Fighting Off Parkinsons Disease Symptoms Through Boxing

Parkinson’s disease boxing workout

Currently, there is no cure for this disease but its progression may be slowed down through various therapies. Here is where the effects of boxing get a bit contradictory yet there is an explanation for that.

While heavy blows to the head can lead to severe injuries that can further trigger various conditions or represent a potential risk factor for others, Parkinsons disease included, the physical exercises involved in boxing may have a protective effect on the brain.

Despite the fact that research in this field is limited, more and more gyms adopted the Rock Steady Boxing program that combines various boxing exercises and drills to reduce the symptoms of Parkinsons disease. This program basically uses the beneficial movements and physical training involved in boxing while eliminating sparring with another person and thus the risk of injuries.

This is a non-contact workout that includes weight-training core exercises, calisthenics, and traditional boxing drills to improve the physical and mental condition. The program that is now used across the entire world for individuals diagnosed with Parkinsons disease focuses on balance, hand-eye coordination, footwork, and reaction.

However, to understand the way this program can help a patient suffering from this disease, it is important to know what causes the symptoms, according to physical therapist Danielle Sequira.

How Many Boxers Have Parkinsons Disease

One study of 704 retired Thai boxers found a prevalence of Parkinsons similar to that of general Asian populations. The data hinted at a higher rate for boxers with more than 100 professional fights under their belts, but the researchers didnt have enough cases to calculate the rate precisely. Ali had 61 bouts.

Can Dogs Get Parkinson’s Disease

Much like their pet parents, dogs can also be stricken by a number of neurological diseases and conditions including Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s in humans is largely considered to be a disease of the elderly, but in dogs Parkinson’s is thought to be primarily a hereditary condition, although some speculate that injury may also play a key role.;

Read Also: Parkinson Life Expectancy

High Intensity Exercise May Be Particularly Helpful

Its thought that high intensity exercise might be particularly beneficial for slowing the progression of PD.

In a 2014 study , researchers examined the benefits of high intensity physical therapy with gait training, strengthening, and perceiving cues on a group of 30 participants in the early stages of PD. They found that the exercise program stimulated increased levels of BDNF and had neuroprotective effects on cells that produce dopamine.

In a 2018 clinical trial , researchers found that a high intensity treadmill program where participants ran at 80 to 85 percent of their maximum heart rate three times per week saw no change in the severity of their symptoms over 6 months. Participants who exercised at a lower intensity had a worsening of symptoms.

Senior Star: In Your Corner For The Fight Against Parkinsons

Fighting back against Parkinson

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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Environmental Factors And Exposures

Exposure to pesticides and a history of head injury have each been linked with PD, but the risks are modest. Never drinking caffeinated beverages, are also associated with small increases in risk of developing PD. Although smokers are at a reduced risk of developing PD, tobacco smoking has overwhelmingly negative effects on health and as many as half of people who use tobacco die from complications of tobacco use.

Low concentrations of urate in the blood is associated with an increased risk of PD.

Drug-induced parkinsonism

Different medical drugs have been implicated in cases of parkinsonism. Drug-induced parkinsonism is normally reversible by stopping the offending agent. Drugs include:

Freddie Roach: Boxing Trainer With Parkinsons

Frederick Freddie Roach is a boxing trainer and former professional boxer. Bryant Gumbel included his story in the HBO series Real Sports, detailing Roachs efforts to control his Parkinsons disease with medication and continued work as a trainer. Roach, who began to show Parkinsons symptoms over 20 years ago, trains world-famous boxers at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, which he owns. His client list has included the likes of Amir Khan, Manny Pacquiao, Mark Wahlberg, and Georges St. Pierre.

But having Parkinsons hasnt dimmed his commitment to boxing, even as its caused his speech to slur and his left arm to shake. Im in the gym every day; its part of life. Instead of taking a vacation, I like what I do. My vacations are right here, Roach said in a 2015 CBS interview.

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What Does Parkinson’s Do To The Brain

Deep down in your brain, there’s an area called the substantia nigra, which is in the basal ganglia. Some of its cells make dopamine, a chemical that carries messages around your brain. When you need to scratch an itch or kick a ball, dopamine quickly carries a message to the nerve cell that controls that movement.

When that system is working well, your body moves smoothly and evenly. But when you have Parkinson’s, the cells of your substantia nigra start to die. There’s no replacing them, so your dopamine levels drop and you can’t fire off as many messages to control smooth body movements.

Early on, you won’t notice anything different. But as more and more cells die, you reach a tipping point where you start to have symptoms.

That may not be until 80% of the cells are gone, which is why you can have Parkinson’s for quite a while before you realize it.

What Causes Parkinson’s In Dogs

Parkinson’s disease boxing tutorial

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition which is caused by a loss if nerve cells that produce dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter essential for muscle control. The reduction in dopamine caused by Parkinson’s leads to a number of issues for dogs including impaired balance and walking, as well as tremors and muscle stiffness.

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Boxers And Parkinsons Disease

Boxing has both negative and positive health effects. While training for boxing involves the development of various muscles, flexibility and strength enhancement, and increased agility, this sport also involves injuries and, more often than not, such injuries include blows to the head. Concussions and bruises are thus common to fighters practicing this sport.

Some of these traumas get worse over time and lead to CTE . This condition debuts with a variety of signs including lack of focus, weak memory, headaches, and dizziness. As the condition progresses, the individual suffering from it can even experience symptoms of Parkinsons disease such as speech and motion issues.

Unfortunately, notable boxers suffered from Parkinsons disease as a result of the great amount of punishment received throughout their career, especially toward the end of it when the slowed reactions caused by age allowed for increased punishment. The heavy beatings and blows received are considered to increase the likelihood of developing this disease.

There are several cases of boxers who displayed symptoms of Parkinsons disease. Out of the most famous ones, we mention Muhammad Ali, Freddie Roach, and Floyd Patterson. Since they were professional boxers, they spent more time in the ring than amateur fighters and thus were more often involved in serious head injuries.

Head Injury And Parkinsons

Its challenging to know whats causing the Parkinsons of a person. However, some data showed that head injury could be increasing the risk for developing this disease.

In;this study, researchers found that those who sustained one head injury were likely to have a diagnosis of Parkinsons. The likelihood is increased in people with more than one head injury.

But the study didnt verify whether or not boxing could directly cause Parkinsons disease. However, the study did confirm that head injury could increase the risk of being diagnosed with this disease later on in life.

Parkinsons disease could be the result of repetitive head trauma. And most boxers sustained head trauma after every fight.

Head injury is just one of the factors that can lead to Parkinsons disease. Many other factors can play a part.

Traumatic head injury has a threshold. When it is crossed, it can trigger an early onset of neurodegeneration.

Even though science cant still figure out the precise causes of Parkinsons, many neurologists believe that boxing isnt good for the brain.

Its especially true if you sustained multiple concussions.

Also Check: What Is The Life Expectancy Of Someone With Parkinson’s Disease

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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Quality/risk Of Bias Assessment

How boxing helps Parkinson

Studies included in the review were appraised for method quality by two independent reviewers and SCS was consulted for confirmation and consensus. The Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale was applied to randomized controlled trials. A valid instrument was selected for other study designs, from the Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Tools database . Each study was assigned a rating of high, moderate or low risk of bias according to the scoring matrix of each instrument.

Also Check: How Long Can You Live With Parkinson’s

The Bottom Line: Exercise And Pd

Rock Steady Boxing can be a great way for people with PD to get exercise and socialization, although it is certainly not the only way. Talk with your doctor about whether Rock Steady Boxing is a good addition to your activities and look for a class that will challenge you in a safe and monitored environment. And if boxing is not for you, dont worry! There are many types of exercise that benefit people with PD you can try different classes until you find what suits you best.

Exercise Programs Incorporating Boxing Skills May Help Manage Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease Here’s How They Work

When Preston Moon was diagnosed with at age 53 in 2008, he never dreamed he’d be bobbing and weaving in a boxing gym or pounding punching bags one year later. After learning that the condition would progressively impair his motor function due to a loss of brain cells that produce the chemical messenger dopamine, he thought he had little to look forward to but a steady decline. Then, in 2009, his next-door neighbor in Indianapolis mentioned Rock Steady Boxing, a local nonprofit program she’d attended that used boxing to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Moon was skeptical. “I’m a retired Army sergeant first class, and physical training was something I did but didn’t necessarily enjoy,” he says. “The last thing I wanted to do was work out again.” But with little to lose, he decided to check out the program. What he saw at the gym was surprising: People were punching small speed bags and large heavy bags, doing footwork and balance exercises, and performing calisthenics. “It was people of all ages, male and female, and they wereexcuse my Frenchgoing balls to the wall,” Moon says. “I thought, ‘These guys have Parkinson’s?’ It changed my attitude immediately.”

Growing Strong


Training Coaches

Making Assessments


Tailoring Workouts

Specific Moves for Specific Symptoms


Pushing Limits

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Boxers Take Aim At Parkinsons Disease

Roland Poyante throws an uppercut toward Jason Pires . Pires, a former pro boxer, is teaching a boxing class intended for people with Parkinsons disease and their caregivers. Research has shown exercise that requires deliberate movements can help those with Parkinsons develop strength and agility.

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 edition of Senior Scope. Article and photos by Seth Thomas.

A former pro boxer is helping those living with Parkinsons disease knock out their symptoms in a new fitness class.

On April 16 at the Dartmouth Council on Aging, about two dozen people stood in a circle and learned basic punches, jabs and uppercuts from Jason Pires, a former pro boxer and Olympic alternate during the 1996 Summer Olympics, and Crystal Lawson, a mixed martial arts fighter and Muay Thai pro.

The non-contact boxing class was intended for those with Parkinsons disease as well as their caregivers.

75-year-old Roland Poyante was formally diagnosed with Parkinsons about a year ago, but has experienced symptoms for the past few years. Poyante said he was surprised when his doctor recommended boxing. His wife made a connection with Pires, and now Poyante has been training at Pires gym, KO Gym on Conduit Street in New Bedford, once a week for the past five months.

While drugs and surgery may stave off or temper some symptoms, there is no outright cure.

For more information on Rock Steady, visit

Boxers And Brain Injuries A Scary Study

Can Boxing Knock out Parkinsons Symptoms?

Here is a frightening statistic: nearly 90-percent of boxers suffer a brain injury of some extent during their career, according to the Association of Neurological Surgeons. The repeated hits to the head on a daily basis are terrible on boxers, and causes them to be prone to Parkinsons or Alzheimers disease later in their lives.

It is just repetitive trauma to the head like whiplash on a daily basis, Dr. Luis Villaplana, a Youngstown doctor, explained. The brain has very little space to move inside the skull. It is never good to have repetitive trauma on an incased organ. Even if you have strong neck muscles, the punches will take its toll.

One of the best ways to help reduce the number of brain injuries in boxers is also one of the most obvious. Helmets cut down on injuries, and amateur boxing requires them, but professional boxers dont always wear headgear. Similar measures can also be used in professional boxing, but may decrease the thrill, which does appeal to many supporters, said Dr. Hans Forstl in Boxing Acute Complications and Late Sequallae.

None of this is exactly news, but it shows just how common the injuries really are. Every day, athletes destroy their bodies for the glory of the championship, and we continue to romanticize and aggrandise the sport. has more about the recent studies.

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Boxing And Parkinsons Disease

We know without a doubt that exercise is important for people with Parkinsons disease .; Various types of exercise and movement can help people improve their balance, strength, mobility,;flexibility, endurance and walking ability. Studies also reveal that exercise can help improve cognition, depression, fatigue, and sleep. We have discussed exercise in previous blogs and go into;great detail in our Be Active & Beyond exercise guide. Weve also shared tips for exercising safely while at home during the pandemic. We often get questions about boxing as exercise for people;with PD especially about Rock Steady Boxing, a specific type of boxing class for people with PD that is offered around the country. For todays blog well share a bit more info about Rock Steady Boxing and get input from two experts on the topic so you can decide if this type of class is right for you. Note: Not every boxing-style class designed for people with PD is a Rock Steady;Boxing class. There are some independently-run classes that are not affiliated with Rock Steady. For the purpose of this blog, we are specifically discussing the Rock Steady Boxing program.

Suzanne Taitingfong And Roland Campbell

Suzanne Taitingfong, age 60, was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease back in 2010, and at the time boxing wasnt even on her radar of potential workouts or hobbies.

However, when the mother of three heard that fellow Parkinsons patients were having successful reactions to boxing, she was open-minded.

I said, Well Im willing to give it a try, Taitingfong reasoned.

Not only did she try, but Taitingfong became a pioneer in the world of boxing for Parkinsons patients. Her phone call to former professional boxer Brett Summers resulted in an entire new program at Summers Arlington, WA gym.

Summers was passionate about the program from the start, since his uncle Roland Campbell is also living with Parkinsons disease. Campbell attends his nephews classes along with Taitingfong and whats become a large group of other loyal participants.

Taitingfong, Campbell and their boxing classmates have experienced a slew of positive results. Perhaps most noteworthy is Campbells restored ability to walk backwards, something his doctors all said hed never do again.

This is just one of the many reasons Taitingfong firmly believes Boxing and Parkinsons is a match made in heaven.

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