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Fired Up: Living Healthy with Parkinson’s

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Sparks of Life, an organization that offers an array of emotional, medical and educational resources, and arranges conferences with presentations by renowned neurologists and PD specialists

By: Linda Eber LCSW, with Rabbi Moshe Gruskin, Rachel Adler, and Louis Ezrick PT, MSPT

Parkinson’s disease (PD) afflicts an estimated 1 million Americans, with 55,000 people diagnosed each year. Because of the high incidence in Jewish communities, it is important to promote awareness about PD’s prevalence, symptoms, treatments for managing and slowing its progression, and available resources.

In 2018, Sparks of Life opened SPARKStudio in Pomona, NY, to provide support groups and movement therapy classes including GyroKinetics, Music with Movement, Voice Classes, and Rock Steady Boxing (RSB).

Common symptoms of this progressive disorder may include tremors, balance problems, muscle rigidity, slowness of movement, voice changes, fatigue and sleep issues. Not all symptoms are present in each individual, and no two people are alike.

Like many others, when Rabbi Moshe Gruskin was diagnosed with PD, he experienced distress and lack of guidance. Over time, he adopted his own healthy nutrition and exercise lifestyle and dedicated himself to assisting Jewish Parkinson’s patients. He founded Sparks of Life, an organization that offers an array of emotional, medical and educational resources, and arranges conferences with presentations by renowned neurologists and PD specialists. Rabbi Gruskin is available to provide support, referrals, and information to those newly diagnosed with PD and their caregivers.

Research has proven that exercise can reduce, reverse and delay PD symptoms as it compels the brain to adapt to new challenges and routines. Attendees, caregivers and doctors agree that these classes have impressive physical and cognitive results.

In 2018, Sparks of Life opened SPARKStudio in Pomona, NY, to provide support groups and movement therapy classes including GyroKinetics, Music with Movement, Voice Classes, and Rock Steady Boxing (RSB). Research has proven that exercise can reduce, reverse and delay PD symptoms as it compels the brain to adapt to new challenges and routines. Attendees, caregivers and doctors agree that these classes have impressive physical and cognitive results.

When Evolve Physical Therapy’s owner, Louis Ezrick, PT, MSPT, heard about Rock Steady Boxing, he knew he wanted to help people feel empowered while reducing their progression of PD symptoms. RSB, an accredited program taught by certified coaches and physical therapists, uses non-contact boxing and energetic workout techniques that enhance balance and flexibility, help steady tremors, improve gait, increase strength, and encourage confidence. The fun, supportive venue fosters comradery as participants interact with each other to “fight back against Parkinson’s!” Evolve now offers RSB in Marine Park and Williamsburg.

With growing awareness of people with PD, the Sephardic Community Center recently teamed up with Evolve to offer RSB. Its benefits quickly became apparent when seeing a man in a wheelchair rise-up to punch the bag. A participant said, “Never did I think I’d be this active – boxing of all things – at my age! I love it!”

The fun, supportive venue fosters comradery as participants interact with each other to “fight back against Parkinson’s!” A participant said, “Never did I think I’d be this active – boxing of all things – at my age! I love it!”

The daughter of another participant remarked, “My mom uses a walker, but in this program, she put it aside and ran across the room! Her aides could hardly keep up! She seems more focused and present. That’s a miracle!”

Please join the Sephardic Community Center with Sparks of Life, Evolve Physical Therapy, Boston Scientific, American Parkinson Disease Association, and NY-Presbyterian Methodist Hospital on Thursday, December 19, 6:30 PM for “Fired Up! Living Healthy with Parkinson’s.”

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