Fighting Parkinson's one punch at a time - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Fighting Parkinson's one punch at a time

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SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -

A crisp jab echoes off the mitts held by Trevor Arrotta, a trainer at The Legacy Boxing Club in Spokane Valley.

“One-two,” Arrotta yells. “Double jab.”

The man standing in the ring with Arrotta is 62-year-old Rick Roig.

Roig shuffles his feet to set up a combination; his leather gloves crack once again against the mitts.

“I get to work with these guys and it's changed my life,” said Arrotta. “To see how hard working they are and the things that they have to go through every day.”

Roig and the roughly dozen other students in the gym Monday night have Parkinson’s disease.

“I can talk myself into walking faster, but I can't talk myself into handling silverware or doing some of the fine motor skills,” said Roig. “You deal with it and figure out a way of managing your symptoms and you move forward.”

Roig was diagnosed with the disease two-and-a-half years ago.

“I was noticing my typing in my left hand wouldn't keep up with my right hand,” said Roig. “Two-and-a-half years later I’m still fighting it and am going to fight it forever.”

In an effort to combat the disease, Roig asked his doctor for advice.

“I tell my patients exercise, exercise, exercise,” said Neurologist, Dr. Jason Aldred. “It is just as important as medicine.”

Aldred says exercise, specifically boxing, can slow and even reverse the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

“Boxing has really caught on lately,” said Aldred. “It involves the whole body, it involves upper and lower extremities. If the target is moved from one spot to another the person living with Parkinson’s has to adapt and make new movements.”

Because the results of medical studies on Parkinson’s and boxing have been so successful, Aldred started referring patients to The Legacy Boxing Club.

“Individuals with Parkinson’s benefit from rigorous exercise, regular exercise, cognitive-challenged exercise, things that focus on balance and things that challenge the mind in a new way,” said Owner of The Legacy Boxing Club, Shad Cramer. “Those are things that are intrinsic to boxing.”

Since starting the KO Parkinson’s boxing program at Legacy three months ago, Roig has noticed his symptoms have decreased.

“It’s considerably helped my balance and hand-eye coordination,” said Roig. “It’s much more difficult to do more than one thing at a time and the boxing and footwork have made it a lot simpler and easier.”

According to Spokane Cares, there are approximately 5,000 people in the Inland Northwest affected by Parkinson’s, and many more who have not been officially diagnosed.”

If you would like to learn more about the KO Parkinson’s program, visit www.thelegacyboxingclub.com.

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