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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

EXCHANGE: Parkinson's patients are shadowboxing at gym

April 4, 2017

In this March 8, 2017 photo, boxers who are battling Parkinson's disease and their coaches huddle up at the end of a Rock Steady Boxing program at CrossFit 309 in Peoria Heights, Ill. The Rock Steady program is growing, offering people with Parkinson's a way to push themselves to fight back against the disease by boxing. This year, they've expanded to more classes, moved into their own dedicated space at CrossFit, and just recently installed a professional boxing ring. Journal Star via AP Fred Zwicky

It's tempting when confronting a degenerative disease to be hung up on the things that you can't do, but inside a local CrossFit gym, a group of people battling Parkinson's disease are focused on what they can.
Rock Steady Boxing is, for the 30 fighters who flock to the gym each week, not just an opportunity to physically challenge themselves with non-contact boxing drills, burpees and unleashing pent-up frustration on a stack of mats using a baseball bat. It's also an opportunity to test their physical limits without fear of stigmatization.
"When I started coming here I was afraid to jump," said Jim Susin, diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2007. "This class helps you balance some of those fears."
The Journal Star first wrote about Rock Steady group a year ago, when the group was doing shadow boxing drills between classes at CrossFit 309. Since then the group has opened its own space inside the CrossFit building, complete with a professional boxing ring.
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative movement disorder that affects the nervous system. Symptoms include developing a tremor, slowed movement, impaired balance and muscle stiffness. While medication can help lessen symptoms, there is no cure. Rock Steady Boxing incorporates gross motor movement, balance, core strength and rhythm to help stave off symptoms in addition to medication.
Many living with Parkinsons will experience increasing difficulty performing even simple tasks. Things like getting dressed take longer, while eventually even blinking and smiling can become difficult. Aerobic exercise, doctors believe, can be an important part of slowing the disease's progression.
"After he gets done, it's the best he feels all week," said Thilieu Dreessen, whose husband, Jerry, works out with Rock Steady twice a week. "It helps a lot even though he's not getting any better."
To the fighters, those three hours each week are so valuable that when the gym's leaders told them their hopes to one day buy a boxing ring to put in the gym, they pooled their money together within a matter of months to purchase the professional boxing ring that's now their point of pride.
"As cool as it is to put on gloves and hit combinations, it's a whole different level when you get into a boxing ring," said Ned Neuhaus, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's at age 46 and now leads many of Rock Steady's classes.
"The fun level is over the top."
Source: (Peoria) Journal Star,
Information from: Journal Star,
This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by the (Peoria) Journal Star.
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