Boxing for People with Parkinson’s Disease

Lucky for me my two passions have come together: high-intensity exercise and working with people with Parkinson’s disease. As a Lee Silverman Voice Treatments (LSVT) BIG-certified therapist, a certified Rock Steady Boxing coach, and a Movement Disorder conference attendee, I am dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for Parkinson’s patients.

Research shows that in combination with the appropriate medication regimen, exercise assists in slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Some research even shows that exercise is neuroprotective, meaning it helps to protect and preserve the area of the brain that is being affected with PD!

 Photo credit: Zara Tzanev/Boston Globe

Photo credit: Zara Tzanev/Boston Globe

So, how does it work? After being diagnosed with PD patients will notice that aside from the typical tremor that may or may not be present, their mobility becomes progressively limited -- for instance stooped posture, shuffling or freezing of their gait, decreased arm swing, decreased voice volume, and even smaller handwriting.

High-intensity, large-amplitude exercise (boxing, for example) helps to recalibrate the brain to perform at maximal effort in order to reverse the effects of bradykinesia (slowed movements), improve flexibility/decrease rigidity, and improve coordination. This helps people with Parkinson’s to increase their range of motion, walk taller and prouder with a more natural gait pattern, talk louder, write larger, and improve their ability to perform bed mobility and transfers in or out of chairs, cars, and the shower. Most importantly it’s fun, and it’s excellent for the Parkinson’s patient!

When is the time to get started? Now! The earlier exercise is started following a diagnosis the better, but it is never too late to begin to slow the effects of PD.

At Emerson’s Center for Rehabilitative and Sports Therapies we pride ourselves on our care team approach in the treatment of Parkinson’s patients, including physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy when necessary. We provide comprehensive one-on-one care, including but not limited to LSVT BIG, LSVT LOUD, concepts from Parkinson Wellness Recovery (PWR), boxing, yoga, and agility/coordination training with therapists that specialize in PD.

New group exercise classes begin the week of September 28, 2015.

Fitness for People with Parkinson’s

These classes will include stretching, core strengthening and balance training customized to the needs and levels of the class. Concepts from LSVT BIG, PWR, boxing, yoga, and agility training will be incorporated. All classes are taught by a licensed physical therapist who specializes in Parkinson’s disease.

  • Advanced Class: High-intensity class for those who use no assistive devices and able to tolerated moderate- to high-intensity exercises/activities. 
    • Concord: Wednesdays 6:30-7:30 p.m. 
    • Westford: Mondays 5:15-6:15 p.m.
  • Intermediate Class: Lower to medium-intensity class for those who can stand and walk independently and/or use a cane occasionally, and can tolerate moderate physical activities/exercises. 
    • Concord: Fridays 10-11 a.m. 
    • Westford: Thursdays 10:15-11:15 a.m.
  • Cost: $180 for 8 sessions, each 60 minutes. Fee includes a 20-30 minute one-on-one assessment to determine proper class placement.
  • Locations: 

For more information or to register, contact Courtney Larguinho PT, DPT at Emerson’s Center for Rehabilitative and Sports Therapies at CLarguinho@emersonhosp.org or call 978-287-8281.