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Boxing therapy helps Parkinson’s, COPD patients

Program builds endurance and sense of community
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 4:52 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 24, 2022 at 6:39 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A patient could not walk from the parking lot to the door. Another was looking for a place of support. Months later, both are fighting their diseases in more ways than one.

Don Strahan is a patient with Rock Steady Boxing, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping those with Parkinson’s Disease across the nation. When he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he said he felt scared. Now, though, he feels safe and supported thanks to the program.

“One thing I would like to say is that we build friendships in here. We support each other,” Strahan said.

The program is held at the St. Bernards Health and Wellness Center in Jonesboro. Several patients in the program have seen dramatic results. One such patient is Frank Cummins.

Cummins suffers from Parkinson’s and COPD. He said before he started the class, he couldn’t walk from the parking lot to the door and needed to carry around his oxygen tank.

Now, he leaves the oxygen in the car, and life is getting back to normal.

“Before, I was stuck in the chair, and when I would get up, I would be huffing and puffing just getting across the room,” Cummins said. “Now, I’m pretty much normal. I’m not running any races now, but I can get out and get on my tractor and run it.”

He and Strahan both started the program during the pandemic. In less than two years, they’ve found ways to live with their diseases, and more importantly, ways to fight them head-on.

Strahan hopes the program will help spread awareness of Parkinson’s. For anyone that is diagnosed, he had some simple, but powerful, advice.

“Don’t be afraid of it. I think that’s the biggest problem, being afraid of the unknown. There’s no need to be. Each individual in here is supportive of all the others,” Strahan said.

For more information on Parkinson’s Disease, you can visit Parkinson.org.

For more information on Rock Steady Boxing, you can visit their website here.

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