Why doctors say boxing packs a punch in the fight against Parkinson’s



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LYNDONVILLE, Vermont (WCAX) – Parkinson’s disease affects up to one million people in the United States and approximately 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.

The symptoms are as diverse as people’s personalities, but doctors agree that exercise combats them all.

Enter the Rock Steady Boxing studio in Lyndonville and you’ll hear hands ripping in the air. But that’s not up to the loudest sound in the room … laughs.

Here, each week, 14 Vermonters with Parkinson’s disease participate in classes designed to treat symptoms, straining them: stretching to relieve stiffness; strength training to build muscle; agility to improve balance; and, of course, boxing to practice them all in one quick move.

“It gives me a lot more self-confidence and allows me to see that I can accomplish things that I didn’t think I could,” said Carol Borland.

In more than three years that Borland trained here, she says she’s eradicated her shuffling walk.

Within months, Jesse Berry says he is standing straighter.

But both students agree they can now pack harder, but the biggest gains are emotional.

“You develop friendships that you wouldn’t normally develop,” Borland said. “I think you also develop an attitude that you don’t have to hide the fact that you have Parkinson’s disease.”

“I consider this my second family because you can come here and you can talk to someone who has the same issues as you,” Berry said, crying.

A safe space, a community of friends who fight together against a terrifying disease.

“These people have given me a new outlook on life, that’s what I’m trying to say,” Berry said.

“Parkinson’s disease is about movement. So there is a specific area of ​​the brain where we have these dopaminergic cells, and in Parkinson’s disease the dopaminergic cells die for some reason, ”said Dr. Lisa Deuel, neurologist at the Binter Center at UVM Medical Center for Parkinson’s disease and movement. troubles.

Deuel prescribes a frequent and varied exercise regimen for all of his patients because studies show that it may prevent progression.

“It’s super important because we actually don’t have any drugs that slow down or stop the disease,” Deuel said.

She notes that boxing naturally incorporates all the types of activities she recommends.

Thanks to gym owner and instructor Joe Allard, Vermonters with Parkinson’s disease can call this studio their nursing home.

“I would like to offer them a better quality of life,” said Allard. “I watch them grow as they get stronger, they get more flexible and it’s a lot of fun.”

Reporter Christina Guessferd: Do you feel like you are making a difference?

Joe Allard: I think we’re making a difference, yes.

Copyright 2021 WCAX. All rights reserved.

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