MID North Coast boxing coach Dean Groth has given Parkinson's disease a standing eight count by developing a program that helps people living with the condition improve their quality of life through physical movement.
Dean has been named a "community hero" by Parkinson's NSW in acknowledgement of his volunteer Boxing for Exercise program.
The idea for the non-combative boxing class developed through a working friendship between Dean and Margaret Healey, whose husband Eddie lives with Parkinson's disease.
Like many of his fellow 'Parkos', Eddie was less than enthusiastic about conventional exercise programs, despite the importance of physical exercise for people living with the disease.
Dean, who is a chef by day and has just completed his law degree, is also a senior Australian National boxing coach and facilitating senior coach at the Port Macquarie Boxing Club.
He sought advice on how to incorporate boxing moves into the non-contact program using only punching bags and inanimate objects.
The benefits associated with a Parkinson's boxing exercise program includes increased strength, improved hand-eye coordination, improved posture, better cognitive processing, relieves symptoms for soft-voice disorders, stronger core which can lead to a better gait, improved balance and agility, and improved reaction time.
Parkinson's disease is a movement and mood disorder typically presenting with symptoms such as slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, instability, tremor, depression and anxiety.
According to Parkinson's NSW, the number of people living with the disease in Australia may range from 84,000 to 212,000. A diagnosis can occur at any age with the most common age of diagnosis being 65.
Ten per cent of people diagnosed with Parkinson's are under the age of 45.
Research data shows that exercise is beneficial for people living with Parkinson's. It is second only to medication in terms of effectiveness in slowing the progression of the disease.
Dean now has a mix of both men and women in the program which has resumed with enthusiasm after a hiatus due to COVID restrictions.
"Dean is an amazing guy," Eddie said.
"I don't know how he fits everything he does into a 24-hour day. However he does it, we're just glad he does."
Margaret said Dean's program does so much more than simply keeping people active.
"An award for Dean is thoroughly deserved because he does so much, for so many people. I've known him for many years and he helps kids on the street with boxing as well," she said.
Port Macquarie's specialist Parkinson's nurse Racheal Mackinnon and members of the support group presented Dean with his 'hero' honour.
All were unanimous in their appreciation for the contribution Dean has made to the fitness and welfare of group members over the past three years.
Further information about the Parkinson's Support Group can be found online at www.parkinsonspmq.org.au
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