Parkinson's patients see results from boxing

Amy Titus never thought she'd be boxing.

Some Parkinson's patients are literally taking their fight into the boxing gym.

Actor Michael J. Fox has been vocal about his battle with Parkinson's. It's part of the plot of his primetime show on NBC every Thursday night.

For many, the degenerative disease means an end to work, and sometimes hope. But in Indianapolis, doctors say their patients are finding promise in a local gym.

Parkinson's patients experience stiffness, shakes or tremors and trouble with their balance. But time in the gym is helping them loosen up and fight back.

Training and retraining the body to move is the goal of a 90-minute class at Rock Steady Boxing. It's offered five days a week exclusively for people with Parkinson's Disease.

The real push comes after a routine warm-up. Participants focus on punching, hitting, managing footwork and keeping their balance.

It's hard work for Amy Titus, a 55-year-old mother of three.

"Of all the things, I would never, ever dream I would be doing this - ever!" she said.

Titus was diagnosed with in April, and started boxing in August. She couldn't run and jumping rope was a challenge.

"I could only jump rope five times and that was it," she said.

But on this day, she jumped rope 94 times.

"The results from Rock Steady are awesome and impressive," said St. Vincent Neurologist Michael Sermersheim. He recommends his patients get any aerobic exercise 30 to 40 minutes, five days a week and says studies show it helps Parkinson's patients.

"We have evidence that aerobic exercise of any kind can reverse or slow down the progression of Parkinson's Disease," he said.

"We are pioneers in this effort and the medical community is starting to take notice," said Christine Timberlake, Rock Steady.

While Rock Steady Boxing started here in Indianapolis, there are now affiliates in 15 states, one in Australia and soon Canada.

"I am thumbs up because it works. People are happier and they are doing better with it," said Dr. Sermersheim.

About 140 patients from their thirties to nineties are now enrolled in four levels of classes which meet a total of 18 times a week on the northeast side. The University of Indianapolis is studying the program and plans to publish results.

Rock Steady Boxing