Healthy Living

Rock Steady Boxing: A Pow to Parkinson's Disease

Rock Steady Boxing: A Pow to Parkinson's Disease

The Rock Steady Boxing organization is a group created to give power back to Parkinson’s patients, and to help them partially recover their functionality and lessen the impact of their disease through a non-contact boxing-based fitness regimen. The organization aims to help the 1,000,000+ individuals who struggle with Parkinson’s on a daily basis and set the bar as the first gym that caters to Parkinson’s patient. The Rock Steady Boxing organization is an example that hopefully other organizations will someday follow, and help grow their own initiative to a national level. 

It's clear that Parkinson’s is a disease that, while severely restricting the patient’s ability to perform physical activities, is not lethal by itself. However, the patient’s quality of life is compromised due to its symptoms and only worsens as times goes by.

This inability to perform the simplest tasks with ease, in turn, generates feelings of inadequacy and helplessness in the patient, which may lead to psychological disorders if left unaddressed. Luckily, groups and organizations like Rock Steady Boxing are willing to extend a helping hand, and lend support to Parkinson’s patients around the globe, just to improve a patient's quality of life and help them feel validated.

Rock Steady Boxing uses exercises from professional boxing training routines and adapts them to provide a wide-range of exercises for Parkinson’s patients. These exercise drills are aimed to increase the subject’s proficiency at hand-eye coordination, muscle endurance, accuracy, footwork, speed, and agility. The driving force behind the initiative that Rock Steady Boxing is promoting is viewing Parkinson’s as the opponent, and the patient’s as the boxers that must train and hone their body to fight their disease in the ring.

And, the best part is that neither age, body type, size, or gender is relevant when it comes to training with Rock Steady Boxing, as the exercises are meant to bolster the perceived abilities of every participant, which means that no one is subjected to unrealistic expectations, and are instead encouraged to build upon what they already bring to the ring.

The initiative was born from the wishes of Scott Newman, a Marion County prosecutor who is currently living with Parkinson’s. After receiving his diagnosis of early-onset Parkinson’s at the age of 40, Newman began rigorous one-on-one boxing sessions to slow the progression of the disease. By ‘fighting back’ against his disease, Newman developed increased physical strength and agility, which counteract the effects of his developing disease, granting him a much-needed boost of vim and vigor.

As the word spread of the benefits that these boxing sessions could have for Parkinson’s patients, Rock Steady Boxing was created, and provided training sessions for patients in any stage of the disease; from its early-onset to those who are struggling with advanced stages of the condition.

Patients who want to obtain more information about this initiative can do so by visiting their website, or by speaking privately with a coach via phone. Regardless, patients are encouraged to consult with their physician before booking an appointment at the gym, or before beginning any type of exercise program, in general.

A further understanding of Parkinson's disease

Parkinson’s is a disease that removes the control of the person’s body over time. It is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by muscle stiffness, an increase in muscle tone, tremors, and general instability, which may lead to injuries from falling, especially in those of old age. These symptoms are caused by the progressive destruction of the dopaminergic brain cells located in the substantia nigra. The subsequent decrease in dopamine levels is the main culprit behind Parkinson’s symptoms, as well as the portend of its progressive, neurodegenerative nature.

Those who are struggling with this disease may feel slight difficulties at first, especially when performing tasks that require motor precision. Others might show instability at first, and may suffer several falls because of this. However, as the disease progresses, nearly all physical activity, including walking from point to point, becomes an impossibility, as the symptoms make it too difficult to perform many tasks.

Fortunately, Parkinson’s is still a rare disease, present in approximately 18 cases per every 100,000 inhabitants, globally. It’s prevalence, however, is an entirely different matter. Considering that the disease seldom decreases the patient’s life expectancy, Parkinson’s prevalence is of around 164 cases per every 100,000 inhabitants, which is almost 10 times higher than its incidence. On the European continent, the prevalence of Parkinson’s in individuals over 60 years of age is of 1.43%, which equals around 120,000 cases in countries like Spain, or the United Kingdom. In North America, however, this prevalence of Parkinson’s is of around a million inhabitants at any given time, which is equivalent to around 1% of the population over 65 years of age. In contrast, in individuals younger than 40 years old, the prevalence is less than one case per 100,000 inhabitants, a number that begins to increase as the subject ages. Prevalence increases from 50 years of age, and peaks in subjects aged 80.

The reasons behind Parkinson’s low mortality rate are somewhat inaccurate due to the difficulty to discern between idiopathic Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative disorders. However, despite this fact, the mortality rates of the disease are estimated to be quite low and are decreasing as time goes by and our understanding of it grows. Furthermore, due to the discovery of levodopa as a method to decrease or even halt the risk of death in Parkinson’s patients, the life expectancy has climbed to levels of normalcy, in comparison with healthy individuals.

Interestingly enough, while studies have shown a decrease in mortality in Parkinson’s patients from 2.9 to 1.3 after the invention of levodopa, it was discovered that said reduction was attributed to a decrease in the number of pharmaceuticals necessary for the treatment of Parkinson’s, instead of the direct effect of levodopa itself. Furthermore, the most common causes of death in Parkinson’s is not the disease itself, but due to thoracic infections, as well as from complications that stem from falls due to postural instability.