By Shoshana Stahl SYRACUSE N.Y. (NCC News)– The Syracuse affiliate of Rock Steady Boxing, located in Liverpool, helps people with Parkinson’s disease increase their quality of life through physical activity.
Patrick Van Beveren runs Rock Steady Boxing because he says he saw how it was helping people and needed to bring a program like this to Syracuse. He says exercise releases dopamine which is a neurotransmitter that people with Parkinson’s don’t produce enough of.
Parkinson’s affects every aspect of a person and every individual differently. James Toole is a Parkinson’s patient who goes to classes weekly at RSB. He says these classes have helped improve his daily life because he can’t walk as well as he should be able to.
By 2020, one million Americans will be living with the disease. 60,000 people are being diagnosed every year. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s but medication that can be taken.
Van Beveren says that one aspect of the disease that’s often overlooked is loneliness.
“When people tell you you have a degenerative neurological disease and things are only gonna get worse, you despair,” he said. “You know, what are you hoping for.”
Toole says that the boxing classes have allowed him to meet other patients. He says every at the gym is in different stages of the disease but they are able to understand each other better than other people would be able to.
“Most important I think is that all these people are from different walks of life and they come in here to workout together and we all treat one another well,” Toole said.