We all experience life challenges that can make us lose our footing. It’s just a matter of whether – and how – to retaliate.
For Newdale’s Scott Kent, his battle began with a few warm-up rounds of neurological issues that he couldn’t shake.
Scott was a truck driver by trade, working in the oil fields of the Midwest, where he found himself surrounded by numerous ticks. As his problems with movement and balance began to develop, he came to suspect Lyme disease. However, after being referred to a specialist by his family doctor, MRI tests revealed that he actually had Parkinson’s disease.
The Mayo Clinic defines Parkinson’s disease as a progressive disorder of the nervous system. There is no official cure, although some medications (and even surgery) can improve symptoms. Like many illnesses, the signs appear gradually, such as a slight tremor in one hand, stiffness in the limbs, slurred speech, postural disturbances and problems with balance.
“I was pretty depressed by the results,” Scott said. “I decided I was just going to sit down and watch TV until I died.”
Scott’s reaction was understandable and even predictable. One of the most common complications in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease is depression.
“This is how I felt, just depressed,” he said. “I felt there was nothing I could do for myself. My kids kept complaining to my wife, “What’s wrong with daddy?” She said, ‘He won’t go back to the doctor.’ My feeling was, why even try? My oldest son even threatened to come pick me up and carry me if I didn’t go myself.
Scott describes his worst symptom (besides controlling his hands and shaking all the time) is when he involuntarily starts to walk backwards.
“I keep going until I hit a wall or trip over something,” he said. “It’s scary, especially when falling. I did a lot of falls. With Parkinson’s disease, no one is the same. It makes things very frustrating. “
After being persuaded, Scott returned to the doctor, who then sent him to the University of Utah. Among other specialties, the college has a division dedicated to Parkinson’s disease and other neurological diseases.
“The doctors there recommended physical therapy, so I started with Madison Memorial in Rexburg, which really helped me, as did the fitness,” Scott added.
In January 2018, Scott went to Spokane to visit his son, who told his father about a friend who was a boxer and belonged to a fitness club with a boxing class only for Parkinson’s patients. .
“My first thought was, ‘Boxing? Wait, Muhammad Ali died of Parkinson’s disease from boxing! ‘ But apparently it was unrelated, ”he said. “When I got home, I just Googled ‘Boxing for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease’.
Ideally, the best hit ended up being a local show in Idaho Falls at Club Apple (still known at the time as Apple Athletic). It was a brand new offering called “Rock Steady Boxing” and its local organizer, personal trainer Sandi Gordon, had only just started running classes.
The program started with Sandi and only five participants, but quickly gained local media coverage. Scott immersed himself in the program. He even became a certified Rock Steady trainer and helped establish a local support group.
After the club was closed for 7 weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic, the new group brought in the Idaho Falls team from RehabAuthority to provide a program specifically for Parkinson’s disease.
“It was a good fit,” Scott said. “I was still boxing, but decided to take the 4 week course as well. Everything went very well together. “
Therapies focus on forced exertion, which helps the movements you lose with Parkinson’s disease. RehabAuthority uses a program called LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Treatment).
The treatment setup has at least two distinct flavors. One is LSVT LOUD, which is more specific to speech therapy. The other is LSVT BIG, designed to address movement impairments by improving small and large motor movements.
Add a little balance training, and that’s where Rock Steady Boxing comes in.
The RBS concept began in 2006 with Scott Newman, who has Parkinson’s disease, and his friend Vince Perez, who happened to be a Golden Gloves boxer. The program was formed after discovering studies that showed how certain types of rigorous exercise could have a positive effect on range of motion, flexibility, posture, gait and more.
According to the program’s FAQ page, specific workouts range from “ring work to concentration mitts, heavy bags, speed bags, double-ended bags, jump rope, core work, gymnastics. Swedish and circuit strength training. No boxing experience is necessary and people of all ages can participate. Four different levels of lessons are offered, depending on the Parkinson’s level of the participants and their general physical condition.
The sheer number of studies and programs might be a bit overwhelming for some, but for Scott everything can be categorized under Good problem to have.
“Just on the internet there is more reading than anyone can do,” he said, adding that when you cut it all down, simple fitness is the best therapy possible – “anything that can. make you pump your heart, break a sweat or practice movements.
For his own progress, Scott credits the programs as well as the support group for keeping his progress on track and his spirits high.
“To go from not being able to do anything for myself to becoming almost fully functional has been an absolute miracle,” he said. “I would say, never give up. It’s a scary disease, but if you’re having a hard time, know that there are some great programs and people you can contact.
For more information
Rock Steady Boxing at Club Apple
2030 Jennie Lee Drive • 208-529-8600