Researchers are turning to the boxing ring to find new options in battling the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
A pilot study showed that a three-month community boxing program significantly improved motor and non-motor symptoms in adults with early-stage Parkinson’s disease.
“There is growing evidence for the benefits of exercise in Parkinson’s disease,” said Roshni Patel, assistant professor of neurology at Rush Medical College and co-author of the study. “This is another study that highlights the importance of exercise in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. It should be part of our treatment, just like medication.”
The study followed 14 participants who completed the program, which had been specially modified for people with stage 2 Parkinson’s disease, at Gregory Boxing and Muay Thai in Des Plaines, Illinois. Stage 2 Parkinson’s disease is the second of five stages of Parkinson’s disease, characterized by motor symptoms like tremors, stiffness, walking problems and poor posture affecting both sides of the body.
Decrease in depression, anxiety
The researchers assessed the patients’ symptoms of Parkinson’s disease before and after the program. They focused on patients’ motor symptoms as well as non-motor symptoms, including issues such as depression, anxiety, sleep problems, pain, listlessness and memory problems.
The study found significant decreases in the total motor symptom score, as well as several non-motor symptoms, including depression, anxiety, sleep and pain.
Several previous studies have seen the link between community exercise programs and a benefit on motor symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s disease, but the link between exercise and non-motor symptoms is understudied, according to Patel.
“There are a few studies that have looked at boxing and motor symptoms, but none that I know of have looked at non-motor symptoms,” she said.
“Parkinson’s disease is characterized by motor features, and that’s what people think of when they think of Parkinson’s disease. But non-motor features can be just as disabling, if not more so, than motor symptoms. , and they can be more difficult to treat. We particularly wanted to see the effect on people’s non-motor symptoms.”
Patel said she thinks boxing can be a good exercise choice for people with Parkinson’s because of its range of exercise types, including cardiovascular and aerobic exercise, balance, footwork, hand-eye coordination and strength training.
“There is also a cognitive component,” she said. “If you’re doing different types of movement and sparring and things of that nature, then there’s a cognitive component to it. And it’s just fun. People really like it because it’s fun, it’s not something really repetitive You’re with other people There’s a social aspect and a social engagement part to it, it’s good for morale.
Lucia Blasucci, RN, program coordinator at Rush University Medical Center and Abhimanyu Mahajan, MD, MHS, assistant professor of neurology at Rush University, designed the study and co-authored the research with Patel. The findings were presented in the poster “A Pilot Study of the Effect of a Community Boxing Program on Parkinson’s Disease” at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in April.
The authors had hoped to continue follow-up after six months and one year, but were unable to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which Patel said limits their knowledge of the sustainability of program benefits. She said she hopes there will be opportunities for larger, longer-term studies, as well as studies targeting specific non-motor symptoms, particularly apathy.
“Unfortunately, we did not see a significant improvement in apathy in our cohort,” she said. “Apathy is very common in Parkinson’s disease. It’s something that can be associated with poor quality of life and can be associated with a heavy burden on caregivers. So we’re very interested in looking at the effects of that.” .”
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A pilot study of the effect of a community boxing program on Parkinson’s disease. www.researchgate.net/publicati … program_on_Parkinson‘s_disease
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