Knocking Down the Barriers of Parkinson’s

Port St. Lucie, FL | August 2019 | By Patricia Roberts

Port St Lucie FL 410

The City of Port St. Lucie Parks & Recreation Department is proud to be an affiliate of the internationally-acclaimed Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) Program; a non-contact, boxing-based fitness program, developed for individuals diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative movement disorder which causes deterioration of motor skills, balance, speech and sensory functions. The RSB program is based on the concept of intense "forced" exercise, which suggests that certain exercises may be neuro-protective, slowing the progression of Parkinson's disease.

The mission of RSB is to empower people with Parkinson's to fight back and give them hope by improving their quality of life. With an estimated one million people currently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in the U.S., (10 million people worldwide), and more than 60,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the U.S., combined with our community's large senior population, bringing RSB to Port St. Lucie, FL was preordained. The chances of developing Parkinson's increase with age, however, Parkinson's can be an "equal opportunity employer," as an estimated 4% of people are diagnosed before the age of 50. Men are 1.5 times more likely than women to develop Parkinson's disease.

For the City of Port St. Lucie Parks & Recreation Department, it was compassion that impelled us to respond to the community's requests for services to assist in mitigating the effects of Parkinson's disease by offering RSB. Once we established that RSB is a proven, effective, and proactive aid for those with Parkinson's, we recognized the need to offer RSB to our community.

Since the January 2019 launch of RSB into the fitness offerings offered by the city, we currently offer six one-hour classes per week at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center. To date, we have hosted 210 total participants in RSB. Multiple inquiries every week are received from individuals who have been recommended by their doctors as the news about our RSB program spreads throughout the medical community on the Treasure Coast. We also have several seasonal participants who visit Port St. Lucie each year who come from an RSB affiliate in their home state, thereby ensuring sustainability for the program and continuity for the Fighter.

Testimonials are key to the success of the RSB program. In the words of one of our participating Fighters in the RSB program: "I was diagnosed in November of 2018 and was told by several friends about the success of the program and was elated to find out it would be available near me. There is no doubt in my mind that this program works. I have seen improvements in not only myself, but all of my fellow boxers. Just want to say we are Rock Steady!"

In June 2019, we were notified that our RSB program was awarded the 2019 Innovation in Health Award by the National Recreation & Park Association. In September 2019, city staff will be present in Baltimore, MD, to receive this prestigious award at the NRPA Annual Conference.

Patricia Roberts is the deputy director at City of Port St. Lucie Parks & Recreation Department.