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Parkinson's patients fighting back through boxing

Posted: 7:45 PM, Aug 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-23 02:47:09Z

People with Parkinson's Disease in Kern County are getting the opportunity to fight back through means many wouldn't expect.

"It's already helping me steady my hands and everything," said Thomas Thompson about the Rock Steady Boxing program at Pair and Marotta Physical Therapy , a boxing class created with Parkinson's patients like Thompson in mind.

"You float like a butterfly and you sting like a bee," Thompson said with a laugh. The local class is a branch of a national program , and the one at Pair and Marotta is the only one in Kern County.

"Every story I hear just motivates me to grow the program more, because it works and we're glad to see it helping," said Kyle Jean, the director of the program who brought it to Bakersfield less than a year ago. The class aims to help Parkinson's patients with quality of life by helping them get back motor skills, strength, and by improving morale through an active lifestyle.

Dr. Jeri Williams says she's the only movement disorder neurologist within 100 miles, and recommends that her patients sign up.

"Studies have shown that when it comes to Parkinson's, exercise is the best thing you can do," Dr. Williams said. She also said the numbers of Parkinson's Disease patients are higher in Kern County than in other areas she's seen.

"I just know that at least once a week, I diagnose somebody with newly diagnosed Parkinson's. So it's very prevalent up here compared to really anywhere in the country," she said.

About 20 people currently take part in the class, ranging in age from mid-40s to 90 years old. The class currently runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but Jean hopes to expand to M-F as the class gains popularity. 

If you're interested in the class, you can call the physical therapy office at 661-324-0122, or you can email Jean at kyle@pairmarotta.com.