A group of local residents is fighting the effects of Parkinson’s Disease through boxing.
Richard Crawford was diagnosed with the debilitating disease three or four years ago. However, the retired school teacher isn’t letting it get him down.
Crawford’s wife, Linda, saw a doctor presenting her study regarding how boxing can be used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease on Good Morning America.
According to Dr. Stephanie Combs-Milla, who is the director of research at the University of Indianapolis’s College of Health Sciences, intense exercise through boxing can alleviate the symptoms of the disease, which include tremors, rigidity, slowness of movement and loss of balance.
Now Richard and Linda Crawford are setting out on a mission to bring such a program to Mount Airy, and Northern Wellness and Fitness Center has offered to host the program.
Dean Carpenter, a personal trainer and manager at Northern Fitness, said the class will feature a martial arts-style boxing program, including kicks to help a Parkinson’s patient’s balance. It will be non-contact, meaning nobody punches back. Those in the class will hit punching bags and punch mitts.
Carpenter noted the training regiment can be tailored to a person’s physical abilities, meaning it can meet the needs of a 50-year-old Parkinson’s patient or a 70-year-old Parkinson’s patient, for instance. He did note an individual should consult with his or her neurologist prior to beginning the program.
Linda Crawford, who is spearheading the movement, said she has rallied several Parkinson’s patients to take part in the program.
“I know of six or seven (Parkinson’s patients),” said Crawford. “There must be many I don’t know of out there in the community.”
Crawford said the program can alleviate symptoms in the short-term and slow the progression of the neurodegenerative disease throughout the course of a patient’s lifetime.
“Our goal is to have something here,” said Crawford. “Soon we want to be going full blast with a class.”
Patt Butera is one of the people Crawford knows. She said she was diagnosed with the disease eight years ago, though her symptoms began to surface years prior.
Butera said early detection is key to getting out ahead of the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s.
“I’ve found your spouse is your advocate,” said Butera. “He notices symptoms before I do.”
She said symptoms often begin subtly. One of her first was a masked face. She wasn’t smiling, even when she was happy. She also lost her sense of smell early on.
Butera said she’s looking forward to the boxing program.
According to Linda Crawford, the program is in its infancy, with the group gauging interest in the community. Thus, there is no schedule for the Parkinson’s boxing class yet.
Crawford is encouraging those interested in the program to call Northern Fitness at 783-0399 to leave their contact information with staff members. Those who call will be contacted when the class officially begins.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.