Stepping Into the Ring With Parkinson’s Disease Stepping into the ring with Parkinson's disease

A program in Syracuse uses boxing to fight back against Parkinson's disease

LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) – According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, nearly one million American’s have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The slow progressing disease affects neurons that produce dopamine gradually bringing symptoms like:

  • Tremors
  • Bradykinesia
  • Limb rigidity
  • Gait and balance problems

Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s, a program that utilizes boxing to combat the disease is celebrating its third anniversary. Since 2017 Rock Steady Boxing Syracuse has been helping those diagnosed with Parkinson’s fight back against the disease keeping symptoms from overtaking their mobility.

Rock Steady Boxing uses a combination of boxing and other activities to combat the effects of Parkinson’s. Rock Steady Boxing offers:

The combination of these activities allow people fighting the disease to keep their independence.

Richard Hauman, former Syracuse Police Department deputy chief, has been training with Rock Steady Boxing for just over a year and attributes maintaining his independence and mobility solely to this program.

“Initially I thought my life was over, because I have heard so many bad things about Parkinson’s” Hauman said, “I don’t know of anything else you can do”

According to Patrick Van Beveren who is the head boxing coach at Rock Steady Boxing Syracuse, having Parkinson’s can be very isolating. Rock Steady Boxing is more than just a place to maintain physical mobility, it is a place that provides a sense of community. And more than that it is a place for people like Hauman to forget the hardships brought on by Parkinson’s disease.

“If they’ve had Parkinson’s for three years, five years, 10 years whatever. I really wonder when the last time was they laughed, but we try to laugh every time they come in.” Van Beveren said. “I also have a great deal of respect for them, because it is a tough, tough disease… They weren’t dealt a really good hand, but they’re hanging in there. They are literally fighting back.”

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