Former Missouri Teacher Trying a New Program to Counter Parkinson’s Disease

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COLUMBIA, Mo. – A Former Kindergarten Teacher, who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, is trying a new program to counter the disease, that involves lacing up a pair of gloves and whacking a heavy punching bag.

Susan Vittone is enrolled in a specialized workout called Rock Steady Boxing, at Mizzou’s Healthcare and Human Performance Institute.

Her neurologist said she should give it a try and credits the program for keeping her symptoms of Parkinson’s at bay.

Many participants in the class struggle with spatial awareness, which is the ability to navigate in a given space.

However, the repetition of punches is a part of an effort to keep the brain active while making large movements.

Dr. Junaid Siddiqui, an MU Healthcare Neurologist, says, “Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, help your symptoms.  It sort of helps just like medications, without side effects.”

Becky Edwards, Certified Rock Steady Coach, says, “The principles of boxing, really they work on all deficits that we see in Parkinson’s.  It is balanced, it is the core strength, it is movement fluidity.  All of those things go into boxing training.”

Vittone still drives and maintains an active lifestyle and she has gained confidence from the workouts. 

There is no cure for Parkinson’s but Rock Steady Boxing is designed to slow the disease progression.

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