Rock Steady helps Parkinson's patients fight back

 A boxing program helps people with Parkinson's fight back against the disease.
A boxing program helps people with Parkinson's fight back against the disease. (WILX)
Published: Aug. 28, 2019 at 5:29 PM EDT
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More than 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease every year.

There's a program that's helping Parkinson’s patients fight back.

"It’s very hard sometimes, but I’ve enjoyed it a lot," Pauline Baker, a Rock Steady Boxer, said.

Baker's talking about her latest boxing workout – not something you expect a 90-year-old to be doing.

She signed up after hearing how boxing could help her fight the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.

"They’re literally fighting for their lives," said Rock Steady Instructor Virginia Larioza.

Rock Steady Boxing in Howell gives thousands of Parkinson’s patients a chance to answer the bell.

"It's a fun environment,” said Boxer Tony Tollis. “We all try to harass each other and have friendly competition, because those things don't stop in life, we continue to do the things that we used to do, just in a different environment."

Parkinson's attacks things like motor skills, balance, and cognitive function – things boxers need to succeed.

Medication can mask the symptoms, but boxing helps knock them out.

"This completely changes people's attitudes...they become enthusiastic, engaged in life again, it's amazing to witness," said Larioza.

Parkinson's can remove its patients from their daily lives, but Rock Steady helps them bring that life back.

"I was let go from a job that I had, because of the fact that Parkinson’s affected my ability to speak in front of individuals,” said Tollis. “It became very apparent to me that this something that's not only going to be good for me as it relates to Parkinson’s, it's been nothing but a rewarding experience not only physically but mentally. These things help to make life a whole lot easier to deal with as a Parkinson’s patient."

Rock Steady puts the right tools – and the right people – in a patient's corner.

"After all these years, I’ve finally been able to run a little bit in the class," said Baker.

"This has become their family,” said Larioza. “The sense of community is one of the big aspect, in addition to the exercise, that really changes things for them.

"It’s very nice to have everybody know what you have and go through that," said Baker.

You can find more information about Rock Steady Boxing by clicking on related links.

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