Punching Out Parkinson’s by Colleen Bridges

Every 6 minutes someone is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD).  Most do not expect their physician to prescribe boxing along with appropriate medication .
Yet, every day Vanderbilt Movement Disorder physicians, middle Tennessee neurologists and therapists are doing just that  with positive  results and findings  supported by a decade plus of research.
 So, why boxing along with  dopamine replacement therapy? First, let’s review the epidemiology of Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological disease that primarily affects dopamine producing neurons in the Substantia nigra. The Substantia nigra is a part of the Basal Ganglia and is responsible for the production of dopamine neurons that facilitate movement and muscle tone. 
People living with Parkinson’s Disease display impaired  movements, loss of balance, poor gait, postural issues, visual tracking problems,rigidity, tremor, freezing, facial masking,  inability to focus on a task or process information clearly, bradykinesia, hypophonia (volume of voice) and more.
Now, consider all the skills a boxer must possess. They train daily to hone  the following skills: 
As noted previously, the above are areas of which folks living with Parkinson’s struggle  with day in and day out! So, doesn’t it make sense to include boxing in their regular exercise regime. Additionally, when you integrate essential strength exercises with boxing, you build a powerful, comprehensive exercise program that results in physical and cognitive growth  and HOPE!
Can  anyone with Parkinson’s Disease box? It depends on the person and their physical and cognitive  limitations . But for the most part, the answer is yes! I work with those who have recently been diagnosed and those who have been fighting PD for over 27 years, and  they range in age from 27-94! Some Parkinson’s “fighters” only have a slight finger tremor, while some are wheelchair bound. But one thing they have in common is the spirit to fight!
But, the cherry on top of boxing with Parkinson’s  is the research that supports my Parkinson’s fitness program, Rock Steady Boxing.
  1. Exercise is medicine!- research by Johansson, Hanna et al reports that exercise is shown on functional MRI to improve signal transmission in the PD brain, effectively demonstrating neuroprotection and neuroplastic changes related to exercise.
    Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.
  2. Improved Balance and Decrease Falls- in a national study conducted by Moore et al, an 87% reduction in falls of people participating in a Rock Steady Boxing program .
  3. Improved Non-Motor Symptoms-
    70% improvement in social life
    62% improvement in fatigue
    61% improvement in fear of falling
    60% improvement in depression
    58% improvement in anxiety
  4. Decreased Risk Of Hospitalization- participants in Rock Steady Boxing experience decreased hospitalizations!

References Provided

Information like this is encouraging many in the middle Tennessee area to join our Parkinson’s Wellness Program, Bridges For Parkinson’s- Rock Steady Boxing Music City and Franklin!

While my program focuses on addressing the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease via boxing and Parkinson’s specific mobility and strength exercises, my team of physical, occupational and body work therapists are available to assist members with additional issues such as stenosis, scoliosis, neuropathy, balance, fine motor skills and much more! AND…care-partners are welcome to participate at NO additional charge!

Parkinson’s Disease is a journey and Bridges For Parkinson’s- Rock Steady Boxing Music City and Franklin wants to support you and your family! You are not alone! To learn more about our program and watch an informative video go to www.bridgesforparkinsons.com .

Together, we fight back stronger!
Colleen Bridges

Written By: Colleen Bridges, M. Ed, NSCA-CPT, Parkinson’s Fitness Specialist And owner/head coach of Bridges For Parkinson’s and Rock Steady Boxing 
Music City and Franklin, TN
By |Published On: Aug 1, 2023|

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