Studies Show Boxing is Great for Parkinson’s Disease

Studies have shown boxing is a great alternative therapy for people living Parkinson's Disease. They support the notion that rigorous exercise, emphasizing gross motor movement, balance, core strength, and rhythm, could favorably impact range of motion, flexibility, posture, gait, and activities of daily living.


Background

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a highly prevalent neurodegenerative disease whose incidence is increasing with an aging population. One of the most serious manifestations of PD is gait instability, leading to falls and subsequent complications that can be debilitating, even fatal. Boxing therapy (BT) uses gait and balance exercises to improve ambulation in people with PD, though its efficacy has not yet been fully proven.


Methods

In the current longitudinal observational study, 98 participants with idiopathic PD underwent twice-weekly BT sessions. Primary outcome was self-reported falls per month; secondary outcomes were quantitative and semi-quantitative gait and balance performance evaluations. Statistical methods included segmented generalized estimating equation with an independent correlation structure, binomial distribution, and log link.


Results

The average number of self-reported falls per month per participant decreased by 87%, from 0.86 ± 3.58 prior to BT, to 0.11 ± 0.26 during BT. During the lockdown imposed by COVID-19, this increased to 0.26 ± 0.48 falls per month. Females and those > 65 years old reported the greatest increase in falls during the lockdown period. Post-lockdown resumption of BT resulted in another decline in falls, to 0.14 ± 0.33. Quantitative performance metrics, including standing from a seated position and standing on one leg, largely mirrored the pattern of falls pre-and post-lockdown.

Conclusions

BT may be an effective option for many PD patients.


Credit: Horbinski, C., Zumpf, K.B., McCortney, K. et al. Longitudinal observational study of boxing therapy in Parkinson’s disease, including adverse impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown. BMC Neurol21, 326 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12883-021-02359-6

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