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Boxing For People With Parkinson’s Comes to Maine

Rock Steady Boxing Mid Coast Launches in Brunswick
Bob Kalish of Arrowsic, Maine takes part in the new Rock Steady Boxing Mid Coast program that empowers people with Parkinson's to "fight back." Certified Rock Steady Boxing trainer Zachary Hartman, EP, with Mid Coast Center for Community Health & Wellness, coaches. 
(Photos by Jeff Morris, The Pierce Studio, Brunswick).

Rock Steady Boxing, a unique exercise program, based on training used by boxing pros, and adapted to people with Parkinson’s disease, will now be available in Brunswick, Maine. A joint collaboration of Mid Coast Hospital and the Landing Y of the Bath Area Family YMCA, the program is offered twice per week, for men and women of all ages and levels of ability. 

"We are fortunate to be able to bring this program to Brunswick,” said Cate Parker, Director of Mid Coast Center for Community Health & Wellness. "Working with the YMCA is a true partnership that is providing exceptional programming for Parkinson’s patients through clinical expertise and a shared desire to meet the needs of our community.”

Rock Steady Boxing Mid Coast began offering classes in mid December. The program is led by certified Rock Steady Boxing instructors and involves regular exercises, such as stretching, bicycling, running, jump-roping, push-ups, balancing and lots of non-contact boxing, led by experienced trainers/coaches.        

Neurologist William Stamey, MD, with Mid Coast Medical Group–Neurology, provides medical oversight for Parkinson’s disease programs offered through Mid Coast Center for Community Health & Wellness. He notes that the American Parkinson Disease Association has estimated that more than one million Americans have Parkinson’s disease. There are at least 3,500 elderly Mainers diagnosed, many in the Midcoast region and larger towns and cities, where populations of people are concentrated. "With Parkinson’s patients there is a range of difficulty with movement that affects voice, breathing, and general mobility. Through treatment, rehabilitation, exercise, and support, Mid Coast Hospital offers a full continuum of resources to help reduce symptoms and improve the lifestyles of PD patients.”

Bob Kalish was among the first participants to join the new Rock Steady Mid Coast program. "My symptoms have progressed steadily,” he said. "I find the exercise programs offered by Mid Coast Hospital and the YMCA to very helpful and supportive.” Bob maintains a regular exercise routine that includes basketball three days a week and medical exercise programs twice per week. "The new boxing class is a fun way to get a good workout in, among a supportive and understanding community.”

"We have always believed in the Rock Steady Boxing Method,” said Rock Steady Boxing, Inc. Executive Director Joyce Johnson.  "When evidence began to emerge that our program had a very positive impact on the ‘boxers’, our mission became clear -- to share our knowledge and experience with all people with Parkinson’s. That is why we decided to make our training available worldwide -- to train as many as we can so together we can improve the care of people with Parkinson’s everywhere.” Today, there are about 300 national and international affiliated programs that have been officially certified in Rock Steady Boxing.

"We are learning every day that there are ways in which people with Parkinson’s disease can enhance their daily quality of life and even build impressive power, strength, flexibility and speed,” said Parker. "These classes have proven that anyone, at any level of Parkinson’s, can actually lessen their symptoms and lead a healthier/happier life.”

For additional information about Rock Steady Boxing Mid Coast and other Parkinson’s Disease programs offered at Mid Coast Hospital, visit the website, or call (207) 373-6585.