It may seem unconventional but nearly a dozen people in Fairmont are using punching bags along with other physical skills to fight Parkinson’s disease. The instructors, who are well versed in sports medicine, said the results are unlike anything they've ever seen.
Parkinson’s disease has no cure. It is a neurological condition that gets progressively worse over time.
"This is a frustrating situation for them. These are professional individuals, these are successful people and Parkinson’s has taken away a lot of that," said Dr. Nancy McKinley, an instructor for Rock Steady Boxing.
That is where Rock Steady Boxing comes into play.
"What we've found out is that people participating in this particular program, it doesn't cure them, but what is does is it can stop the aggression of Parkinson’s disease," said Jim Salai, an instructor for Rock Steady Boxing.
Studies show that forced, intense exercise is the key to slowing that progression.
Dr. Nancy McKinley and Jim Salai are the instructors at the Health Plex in Fairmont. In their classes, participants work on skills like flexibility, balance and focus.
"With something like Parkinson’s, my professional experience has been a little bit less optimistic, a little bit less rosy. Seeing these changes is awesome," McKinley said.
Charlie Snyder has been taking the classes for six months. He has regained balance, the ability to walk and his strength.
"When I started, I couldn't do maybe two sit-ups. Now I can do whatever you want me to do," Snyder said.
The effects are not just physical.
"It definitely gives you a brighter outlook because you have something to look forward to. I’ve got ten new friends in here that I didn't have before," Snyder said.
Salai is hoping to expand the program to Morgantown and Clarksburg to help more people take control of their disease.
"Now they can fight back. That’s pretty cool."
For more information on Rock Steady Boxing, click here.