Rock Steady Boxing

If you walk to the back
of the red gym inside Louisiana Tech
University’s Lambright Sports and
Wellness Center, you will find the beginnings
of a boxing gym. There are heavy bags
and speed bags hanging from the white
brick walls, and a blue foam mat covering
a large section of the hardwood floor. ♪♪ And if you come on a Tuesday,
Thursday, or Saturday morning, you might even get to witness
boxing class. If you’re looking to
catch a glimpse of aspiring prize fighters
or olympic hopefuls, you’re in for a let-down. However, if you stick around
long enough, you will not be dissapointed. You see, every student
in this class has a story, and this class has a purpose far bigger than a title fight
in Vegas. This is Rock Steady Boxing. My name is Larry Neal. I’m a semi-retired ear, nose,
and throat surgeon. I’ve practiced here in Ruston
for 40 years at Green Clinic. About 3 years ago, unfortunately
I began to have symptoms that led to the diagnosis of
Parkinson’s Disease. When I got that diagnosis… You have a tendency, when you
have a diagnosis of something that
doesn’t have a cure, you start worrying about- “Are you grasping at things that
don’t have any validity?” So I started reading about this,
and I kept seeing references to this excercise program, and
I went to their website and did a lot of review
on their website, and then talked to 2 or 3
physical therapists in Ruston whose judgment I trust, and they
looked at the same data with me and came back and said that
they thought this was a valid program and had good
benefit for patients with the disease, but nobody had
the room to do it. It takes a lot of room to
set this up for a group of 10 or 12
or 14 patients. They asked me to talk to the
folks at Tech here at Lambright, and Bobby Dowling and I met and
we shared some ideas. We began to talk to
Dr. Neal about it, we began to research the program
to see what it was and what it would accomplish, and we were very impressed
with everything, and so we just decided that it
was something that we needed to do here at
Louisiana Tech. ♪♪ Bobby Dowling, our director,
called me in his office and said that one of our local
doctors had contacted him about this Rock Steady Boxing
for Parkinson’s. And then as we looked at
the Parkinson’s population here in northeast Louisiana,
that was really turned the corner, as we
realized what a need we had in northeast Louisiana for
something like this. ♪♪ Basically, we start out with
about 10 minutes of stretching, loosen up the joints, the
ligaments, and the muscles, and get them warmed up and
get them ready. And then we take them through a
full body circuit training. Squats, moving up and down
on steps, we try to use a lot of
pulling motions to get the shoulders back, get them back to standing up. A lot of times, with Parkinson’s
the muscles get really tight, and they tend to come down
a little bit. So we try to get their
shoulders up. We also try to improve their
gait, their walking pattern to get them out of that shuffle. We try to get them on the ground
and get back up, show them how to stand up
with the right balance. What’s so good about
Rock Steady Boxing is that they’re in a boxing stance, and
that boxing stance is probably the most stable
stance a person can be in, with your power foot in the back
and your other foot forward and your foot a little bit wider
base than normal. So the boxer stance is perfect
for especially senior adults but specifically
for Parkinson’s patients. ♪♪ Parkinson’s patients have
trouble swallowing where the throat muscles spasm. So in the program,
whether they’re punching or they’re moving around, we’ll
have them do a lot of yelling, even in their stretching, to really get those
vocal cords stronger, which also helps the
swallowing motion. We’re only one of two programs
in the state of Louisiana that offer this right now, and it’s allowed our students,
first of all, to see hands-on research of
something that’s making a difference in
people’s lives through excercise,
through physical activity. And they’ve been able to witness
what this program is doing for people and
how important the program is for their
well-being. ♪♪ Personally, my balance was the worst part of this when
it first started. I began having tremors later on,
but the balance and speech and swallowing were the most
difficult things for me. And as we began this
excercise program those things have all
gotten better. I’ve looked around, we have
several patients in this group that are much more disabled than
I am at this point in time. They’ve had this disease
a lot longer, and they have made
tremendous progress. We tell the story about one of
the members of our group that worked for Tech for
37 years and had to retire because of
Parkinson’s Disease. And he went home and was
just withdrawing from a lot of life and
not very active and he got involved with this,
and now I’ve seen him run the length of this
basketball court without a wheelchair, without
anybody holding on to him. It’s absolutely been amazing
to watch that happen. ♪♪ To see their desire to
get better and work through the adversities
that they’re going through, because this is a
killer disease, it really takes the call of
your life away. To see people go through that
and come in here and put on a pair of
boxing gloves completely out of their
comfort level. It’s amazing to watch them,
and they love it. We tell them love the herd,
and they do, they get in there, and they just
work their butt off, and you can tell. They have
huge, huge results. For us to have this in
Ruston, Louisiana is huge. That is the key to what
we’re doing with this physical
therapy program, because without it, the symptoms
would become progressive. The medicine would help a little
bit, but there’s no question to what excercise, very vigorous
excercise, 3 days a week is a very great benefit for
patients with Parkinson’s. We’re very grateful for
Louisiana Tech because of the way they
embraced the program. Excuse me for being emotional
about that, but they embraced the program and
helped us get this started and have been so supportive
of the whole group, and I think we’re so grateful
for the Tech faculty and staff and the way in which
they started this whole program for us and we’re thankful to
the good Lord that He gave us people to
work with like this who are so passionate and guys
that are our coaches who are so passionate about
helping people with Parkinson’s. And when somebody stumbles and
has a balance issue, there’s somebody there beside
them immediately, and they’re so perceptive
about the problems. So we’re very grateful for what
Louisiana Tech has done for the patients in the
surrounding parishes. ♪♪ There you go, right there,
right there! Good job! Good job! One, two, three, Rock Steady! ♪♪

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