Boxing Program Helps Parkinson's Patients Fight Back

SPRINGFIELD, Mo --A fitness program in Springfield is helping slow the progression of a debilitating disease.

Exercise is good for just about everyone, but it may actually help slow the progression of Parkinson's Disease..

The Parkinson's Disease Foundation says there are more than 2,500 people in the Ozarks living with Parkinson's disease.

While there is no known cure, the Body Smith is fighting back with a one-two punch in a program called Rock Steady Boxing.

Each person is a fighter - figuratively and, in some cases, literally.

"This program has just been a God send, it's been a gift to all of us," explains Mary Ann Higginbothan who was Diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2006.

For 90 minutes a week, Mary Ann feels like she's punching away her Parkinson's Disease.  "It's helped me be stronger and I can last longer with my strength," she says.

"It was very depressing at first. It was just devastating But I'm a very positive person and I always feel like I can handle it."

For Higginbothan seeing those results is all that matters.

"There's things I want to do. I'm not just going to sit down and fade away. I'm going to go out with a bang. I'm going to keep going."

And it's the exact mindset of every member who walks through the doors fighting this battle together.

"Cause we've become a family, we're a family,we share each others joys and sorrows and support each other."

This is just what the fitness program rock steady's creators had in mind.

Shauna Smith Yates is the owner of Body Smith in Springfield. She tells KOLR10, "Human beings can go through a lot. And if you have a strong support group and you have the will to be better, you can do about anything."

She says precise sequence of motions like jabs and shuffling, can be a game changer for patients.

"A lot of them that walk in with walkers and canes walk out without them. Sometimes they forget them and have to come back in for them."

Coaches say the boxing class provides all those aspects of movement.

Polly Brandman is a Rock Steady Boxing Coach. "They're not patients with a disease, they are athletes and they feel the results and come out feeling stronger," she says.

And Yates adds the combination helps rewire the disease pathways of Parkinson's.

"It's allowing them to have a better quality of life and that's what we're after," says Yates.

"Regardless of what you have if it's something chronic. You've got to keep going and don't give up," explains Higginbothan.

Click here for more information about Rock Steady Boxing classes at The Body Smith.


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