Boxing program on Long Island helps patients with Parkinson's Disease

CENTER MORICHES, Suffolk County (WABC) -- A nursing and rehabilitation center on Long Island is using a boxing program to help its patients with Parkinson's Disease.

Oasis Nursing and Rehabilitation in Center Moriches started the program about one month ago. Patients attend boxing classes three to four days every week for 30 to 45-minute sessions.

"Our therapists take a beating willfully participating in this program," said Andrea Serie with Oasis.

Boxing helps the patients improve their coordination, strength, and balance - the exact things which Parkinson's attacks.

"Specifically, for those with Parkinson's, you know, we need that high-intensity exercise. Boxing is one of those activities," said Shari Gessner, an Oasis boxing coach.

Gessner said boxing also improves body confidence in Parkinson's patients.

"The increased fear of falling is going to put you more at risk for falls," she said.

Kathy Rao, of Manorville, said participating in the boxing classes has helped alleviate the stiffness and shaking in her body caused by Parkinson's.

"If I don't exercise, the whole day is shot for me," she said.

Despite limited national clinical studies on the benefits of boxing for Parkinson's patients, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelmingly positive.

At Title Boxing Club in Nanuet, they also offer boxing classes for people with Parkinson's. The motto is, "Fight Back. One Punch at a Time."

Oasis Rehabilitation and Nursing is offering a Parkinson's Support Group for members of the community. Meetings take place virtually the second Tuesday of every month. For more information, contact 631-655-9928 or email Amahnken@liaisonrehab.com.

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