Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Parkinnson's Disease Cautions for Boxers

Parkinson's disease slowly robs you of the ability to function and perform daily life skills such as driving a car, writing and walking. Impaired balance, tremors and instability and gradual loss of strength and coordination, followed by incontinence, and inability to eat, chew and swallow are common in later stages. Exercise may help maintain function and mobility for some diagnosed with Parkinson's, including boxing exercises.
Parkinson's disease is a neuromuscular disease that gradually reduces a person's ability to perform basic motor skills such as hold a pencil or tie shoes. The disease process also eventually affects cognitive ability and your ability to walk. The most common symptoms of Parkinson's disease include tremors in the hands, arms and legs, and a slow, shuffling gait. The disease is caused by a marked decrease of dopamine in the brain and gradually worsens over time. As of 2010, there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, and treatments focus on improving quality of life.
Traditional Parkinson's disease therapies focus on exercises that help a patient maintain muscle strength and coordination to use daily living skills such as walking, eating, swallowing and speaking. Stretching and gentle exercises such as those found in tai chi, Pilates and yoga help maintain joint flexibility and range of motion without jarring or injuring the muscles. Such exercises also help maintain balance and stability.
Boxing Exercises
Clinical trials conducted in 2010 by the University of Indianapolis are studying whether non-contact boxing exercises can help a Parkinson's patient maintain balance, stability and muscle strength, helping to reduce falls and prolonging independence. For example, patients are taught to widen their stance for stability, much as a boxer stands in the ring. Keeping one foot on the floor while shifting position, turning and reaching for objects is practiced. Punching a speed bag and heavy bag is designed to increase strength and coordination in those whose physical condition allows mild to moderate intensity training.
Various types of physical therapy and exercise may help improve balance and coordination in those diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, helping to reduce fall risks and related injuries. Some exercises may help increase their strength and ability to function as independently as possible, as well as benefiting the cardiovascular and digestive system, according to Parkinson's Hope Digest.
Boxing or other contact exercises are not recommended for Parkinson's patients with joint weakness or in advanced cases where the impact of thefist or elbow with solid objects could cause injury. Patients should be assessed individually to determine their balance, coordination, strength, stamina and ability to perform basic boxing moves.

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