Mid-Missouri group throws a punch to Parkinson's
MONROE CITY - Some people diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease fight back, as did Michael Crager, the founder of Rock Steady Boxing- Monroe City, who was diagnosed in 2006 at the age of 42.
Parkinson’s Disease is a central nervous system disorder that affects motor skills. It’s caused by nerve cell damage in the brain. Symptoms often include tremors (or shakes), slowness in movement, stiffness and loss of balance. There is no cure.
Crager said, “I didn’t notice a change in myself, but my parents noticed when I walked, I didn’t move my left arm very much at all. My wife, Marla, thought I was depressed,” Crager said. “I often looked unhappy. She would ask me, ‘are you unhappy? Are you depressed?’ and I would tell her I’m perfectly happy. What it was, was Parkinson’s Disease.”
He typed his comments in an email, because he has full body tremors that cause him to stutter and mumble.
Crager said he knew he had to face Parkinson’s or it would defeat him. He had heard about a group of people using boxing drills to fight the disease. After years of using boxing techniques to combat his symptoms, he established the Rock Steady Boxing gym in January.
The gym started with 5 or 6 participants and now almost 20 people have gotten in the ring.
Each workout begins with 30 minutes of warm ups and stretches. The next 30 minutes is dedicated to boxing drills like speedbags, punching bags and weighted ropes.
“Though the drills are important, it’s the bonds these fighters make with each other that is equally important as the exercises they do,” Crager said.
Parkinson’s can be treated with medication, but one of the only ways to prevent the disease from progressing rapidly is to keep moving the body and brain.
KOMU 8 News spoke with David and Patsy Dalton, facilitators for Parkinson’s support groups in Columbia and Lake of the Ozarks. David Dalton has Parkinson’s Disease and Patsy Dalton is his wife and caregiver.
Patsy Dalton said the disease is challenging, but there are many ways to fight.
“It’s a tough disease, but we have come up with ways that it can be dealt with and one of those is exercise. For many people it may be exercise under the care of a physical therapist, working with an occupational therapist, but one of the newest and biggest growing programs is Rock Steady Boxing.”
To encourage others battling the disease, David Dalton said, “You’ve got to maintain a sense of humor. It’s going to affect you, but if you fight it won’t be as bad.”
Aside from the location in Monroe City, there is also a Rock Steady Boxing affiliate in Columbia, Missouri
Rock Steady Boxing – Columbia
4004 Peachtree Drive
Columbia, MO 65203
Rock Steady Boxing - Monroe City
1110 US Highway 24/36 E. Suite 26
Monroe City, MO 63456