PEI

Parkinson's boxing therapy offered at Summerside club

A boxing club in Summerside is offering Islanders living with Parkinson's disease a chance to lace up boxing gloves this weekend in hopes of improving their mobility.

The movement started in the United States with Rock Steady Boxing

Organizer Natasha McCarthy (right) and Richard Arsenault from Island Impact Martial Arts and Boxing. (CBC)

A boxing club in Summerside is offering Islanders living with Parkinson's a chance to lace up boxing gloves this weekend in hopes of knocking out some of the symptoms of the disease.

Organizer Natasha McCarthy from Mount Albion was diagnosed with Parkinson's two years ago.

The 38-year-old had to quit her job and as the disease progressed, movement slowed, stiffness grew and balance became more difficult.

She heard about similar Parkinson's boxing programs working for patients.

"They had some people who were able to reduce the amount of medication they were on, because they were doing it three or four times a week," she said.

"They have stories of people who couldn't walk unassisted when they started and now walk on their own, so it's pretty amazing."

Rock Steady boxing gym for Parkinson's patients in Indianapolis where the program started. (Havard Gould/CBC)

The movement started in the United States with Rock Steady Boxing. McCarthy said the Island didn't have the funding to start up that exact program, but she went to a local boxing club with the idea.

Richard Arsenault from Island Impact Martial Arts and Boxing in Summerside said he was pleased to offer his facility for the event.

He said many of his club members have also volunteered to help out this weekend.

McCarthy said drugs can ease some symptoms, but there is no cure, and experts say any exercise regimen can benefit people with Parkinson's.

Boxing in particular, she said, moves the body in all planes of motion while continuously changing the routine as you progress through the workout.

McCarthy said during exercise, the brain cells produce dopamine, which is what is lost and what causes the movement issues with Parkinson's.

When you exercise, it will "trick" the remaining brain cells to produce extra dopamine, she explained.

The free trial class of Boxing for Parkinson's is this Saturday at noon at Island Impact Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing in Summerside.

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