April is National Parkinson’s Awareness Month, a time to raise public awareness about Parkinson’s disease and support the ongoing research for a cure. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every year, and it is estimated that nearly one million people will be living with Parkinson’s disease by the year 2020.
While the exact cause of Parkinson’s in unknown, it is classified as a neurodegenerative condition, a disease which is characterized by the loss of cells in the brain and spinal cord. The symptoms of Parkinson’s are wide and varied and usually develop slowly over time. It is said that no two people with Parkinson’s experience exactly the same symptoms, which may include:
- Difficulty with balance, swallowing, chewing, and speaking
- Limb rigidity
- Slowness of movement
- Sleep disruption
- Speech impairment or disorders
- Cognitive challenges
Parkinson’s disease is often considered a senior health issue because it typically affects people over the age of 65. However, it is estimated that four percent of people with Parkinson’s are diagnosed before age 50. While there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, it is possible to live a very high quality of life with the condition. The disease can be managed with physical therapy, medication, and healthy lifestyle behaviors such as diet and exercise.
One way people with Parkinson’s are fighting back against the disease is through an innovative exercise program called Rock Steady Boxing. Developed in 2006, Rock Steady Boxing is a non-contact boxing-inspired class designed specifically for those with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Participants wear boxing gloves and perform movements including shadow boxing and speed bag work, as well as functional movements (getting out of a chair or off the floor, twisting/turning movements, and walking), and flexibility training. The program even encourages participants to practice shouting as a way to mitigate the speech impairments that are often caused by Parkinson’s.
Participating in the Rock Steady Boxing program is known to help people living with Parkinson’s improve balance, coordination, and dexterity, as well as boost their self-esteem and confidence. Most importantly, it’s a fun way to literally fight back against a disease that attempts to rob a person of control over their movements. At Bethany Village, we’re proud to host a Rock Steady Boxing class that is open to anyone in the area with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, regardless of age. (Residence at Bethany Village is not required.)
To learn more about Rock Steady Boxing at Bethany Village, please call 937-949-0783.