Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive, degenerative, neurological disease that has no cure. For causes not yet fully understood, the brain begins a decline in production of a neurotransmitter called “dopamine” which is responsible for your brain’s ability to communicate to your muscles through stimulation of nerves deep in the brain. The result is a loss of motor and non-motor functions.

Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) is an international nonprofit organization based in Indianapolis. It has more than 800 affiliate programs that give people with Parkinson’s disease hope by improving their quality of life through a noncontact, boxing-based fitness curriculum. RSB was founded by Scott C. Newman who was diagnosed with PD at age 40.

RSB exercise classes all over the world have proven that anyone, at any level of Parkinson’s, can lessen their symptoms and lead a healthier and happier life. Since January 2019, RSB affiliate classes have been offered locally at the Columbus Wellness Center through Columbus Community Hospital’s Rehabilitative Services.

Therapists at Rehabilitative Services have a passion for providing specialized services that benefit members of the communities we serve through new and innovative approaches, such as RSB, that demonstrate outcomes superior to conventional therapy. Currently, we have 15-17 boxers regularly attending our RSB classes who have achieved inspiring results already.

Classes are held from 1:15-2:15 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Columbus Wellness Center. The classes cost $15 per month for Y Members and $40 for non-members.

While focusing on overall fitness, strength, flexibility, reaction time and balance, group workouts include: focus mitts, heavy bags, speed bags, jump rope, core trunk strength and circuit training. No boxing experience is necessary and people of all ages living with Parkinson’s are invited to participate. Boxers, both male and female, range in age from 50 to 80+ years of age.

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This newer approach to Parkinson’s disease exercise and physical training has been shown to delay the effects of PD including reducing the stereotypical tremor, shuffling gait, balance issues, loss of motion/flexibility and improving the overall psychosocial well-being of people living with this progressive neurological disease.

There is evidence that intensive exercises, such as those performed in RSB, may be neuro-protective, actually slowing PD’s progression and the loss of functional abilities and quality of life. There is also evidence that referral for therapy early in the diagnosis of Parkinson’s shows even better outcomes through the training techniques taught in the RSB exercise classes.

The forced, intensive exercise movements of boxing-inspired training produce endurance, agility, balance, self-confidence and a positive mindset for the participant who is taking control of their disease’s symptoms and “counterpunching” its effects proactively in noticeable ways in his or her daily life. The training is modifiable to meet people’s needs, no matter the stage of their Parkinson’s.

To fight back against Parkinson’s or for more information, contact Rehabilitative Services at the Columbus Wellness Center at 402-562-3333. Visit www.columbushosp.org under “Our Services/Rehabilitative Services” or www.rocksteadyboxing.org.

This article was written by Matt Wesch and Brittany Zoucha.

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