Rock Steady Boxing for People with Parkinson’s Comes to Humboldt County

Thanks to the generosity of local donors, Harry and Janie Hardin, and the Community Benefit program at St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County (SJH-HC), a series of new exercise programs focused on benefitting those with Parkinson’s disease will now be offered to the community at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka and Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna.

Hardin, a Hydesville resident who has Parkinson’s disease, donated $100,000 in 2018 to SJH-HC, $50,000 of which was earmarked for the development of programs for those with the disease and other neurological conditions. The donation will help support “Rock Steady Boxing”; a Parkinson’s specific exercise program; “LSVT Loud/Big”, a specialized treatment program for Parkinson’s; “PWR! Up”, a wellness exercise class for Parkinson’s; and “SAIL”, a general wellness exercise program for individuals 65 and over.

“Our gift recognizes and thanks St. Joseph Health for the excellent care that I’ve received, especially the outpatient rehabilitation physical therapy team for improving the quality of life for Janie and me,” said Harry.

Said Jim Peaker, area director, rehabilitation services, “We are blessed to be the only two hospitals in all of Northern California to offer such a robust variety of free and low cost exercise and rehabilitation programs for our community. Thanks to the Hardin’s gift and our Community Benefit program, we’ll have upwards of 10 hours of classes a week for those living with Parkinson’s. We are truly building a program of excellence in Humboldt.”

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative movement disorder which can cause deterioration of motor skills, balance, speech and sensory function. Each program will help patients develop skills lost when diagnosed with Parkinson’s or other neurological conditions.

In particular, the Rock Steady Boxing program will be led by trained coaches, and involves exercises, including: stretching, running, jump-roping, push-ups, balancing and lots of non-contact boxing. Academic institutions, such as University of Indianapolis and Butler University, are reporting and documenting the improved quality of life among Rock Steady Boxers and while discovery of a cure may be many years away, there is evidence that progress is made by those participating in the RSB program, regardless of the stages of the disease.

“Regular exercise benefits people with Parkinson’s by reducing stiffness, increasing oxygen’s delivery and keeping our heart, lungs and nervous systems healthy. Research suggests that certain kinds of exercise may be neuro-protective, actually slowing disease progression,” said Roberta Luskin-Hawk, M.D., Chief Executive, St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County.

The funds used for the programs have also provided exercise equipment and specialized training and certification for instructors. Now, local instructors from Humboldt County have certification for the therapy regimen involved for each program.

For more information on costs, class schedules and locations, please contact the outpatient clinic at 441-4454.

***Note – On Tuesday, February 12 at 12:30 P.M. at General Hospital, donor Harry Hardin will be taking part in the Rock Steady Boxing Class and will be available for interviews as will chief executive, Roberta Luskin-Hawk, M.D.***

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