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Battling Parkinson’s disease

“Be first” is a boxing term, a fighting term that means that you need to hit your opponent first before they begin to hit you. And it’s the perfect guiding theme for those who are suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

I teach people who have Parkinson’s disease that they are in a fight, a heavyweight boxing match, if you will, and their opponent every single day is the same: Their progressive movement disorder.

Every single day, the disease process is trying to knock them to the canvas.

Like a jab to the forehead, Parkinson’s makes your balance ineffective.

Like a right cross, Parkinson’s frustrates you because your legs won’t move you forward even though your mind is trying so hard.

Like an uppercut, Parkinson’s doesn’t allow you to get up from a chair or your bed without significant difficulty. And let’s not even get into totally freezing while walking, or tremors that make simple things like drinking from a cup a big challenge … every day of your life is a fight that you’ve not chosen.

But, it’s a fight that you must partake in, and that’s what this is all about. The single biggest tool that you can use to fight Parkinson’s disease is intensive exercise.

There are plenty of recent studies supporting what I know as fact. Special programs involving very large movements and even boxing itself are being developed and used successfully all over the globe for Parkinson’s, and I’ve seen it firsthand.

I like to think of myself as Mickey, the boxing trainer in the Rocky movies. There is always a daunting opponent, but Rocky always finds a way to battle, and so can you.

Mickey is also somewhat unconventional and a little nutty, just like me, but I digress.

In all honesty, if you are in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, by the time you get to the end of this column, you should be tying your shoes to go out and get moving.

Start right away.

If you are in later stages, the principle is still the same, but please consult professional guidance so the intensive exercises that you perform are developed for your unique needs.

You don’t have to sit back and just live with your disease. My hope and guarantee is that you can do something to live better with your disease. Don’t let Parkinson’s keep coming after you without a fight!

“Be First!”

Find more information on intensive exercise and Parkinson’s disease, choose your entrance music, tie your shoes, and jump in the ring and face your life’s biggest opponent. You can do it.

Joel J. Digris is a Schuylkill County resident with a master’s degree in physical therapy. He is currently employed by Achieva Rehabilitation as an outpatient provider of physical therapy and serves residents in Carbon, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties.