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Cabell Huntington, YMCA help fight Parkinson’s with Rock Steady Boxing

August 1, 2018
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Richard Farley, of Barboursville, throws some punches at the bag during the Rock Steady Boxing Kickoff for patients with Parkinson's disease on Monday at the Phil Cline Family YMCA in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — A newly established program, the first of its kind in the Huntington area, is fighting back against the negative effects of Parkinson’s disease.

More than 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, and although there is no cure, the Rock Steady Boxing method, a workout program designed to reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, is helping patients “live well with Parkinson’s.”

“It’s going to be life changing. It takes the focus off of Parkinson’s as a disease and puts the focus on living well with a better quality of life,” said Teresa Sexton, director of Nursing and Senior Services at Cabell Huntington Hospital. “It allows a person with Parkinson’s to fight back and live their life.”

Rock Steady already had programs established in both Charleston and Morgantown and after

two years of organization is ready to offer the same service at the Phil Cline Family YMC A in Huntington. Sexton said the response from patients has been overwhelming.

“We have a pretty large Parkinson’s disease community in our area,” Sexton said. “One of the risk factors is getting older, and we have an older population in this area. We’re blessed in this area to have many specialists that care for patients with Parkinson’s.”

The class will be offered at 2 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday at the Phil Cline Family YMCA.

Nineteen Parkinson’s patients took part in the first Rock Steady session on Monday afternoon. Richard Farley, 80, of Huntington was diagnosed with the disease late in 2017 and said he is grateful that the program is being offered in his hometown.

“I think they have a good thing,” Farley said ahead of his first Rock Steady session. “They are trying to help people with Parkinson’s to look at them and see what kind of shape they’re in and do the best they can to help.”

While some participants might be new to boxing, that is not the case for Farley, who was a Golden Glove boxing champion in the mid-1960s. He said getting back into the basics of boxing was an exciting upside to the new program.

The program is based on training used by boxing professionals and adapted for Parkinson’s patients.

Rock Steady coaches guide participants through a series of exercises such as stretching, bicycling, running, jumping rope, balancing and non-contact boxing.

“This program serves both men and women and can be modified to fit each patient’s needs,” Sexton said.

Although the class is designed for people with Parkinson’s disease, Sexton said it is also an opportunity for caregivers and family members to provide encouragement as corner coaches during the program to keep their loved ones motivated and engaged so they get the full benefit of the classes.

Rock Steady Boxing classes, sponsored by Cabell Huntington Hospital Senior Services, are free to all patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Participants are asked to wear loose-fitting clothes and will be provided with boxing gloves and other necessary equipment. To register, call 304-526-2695.

Follow reporter Luke Creasy at Facebook.com/creasyHD or on Twitter @lewk_creasy.

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