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Franklin County YMCA helping Parkinson's patients through boxing

YMCA hosted open house showcasing its Rock Steady Boxing program

ROCKY MOUNT, Va. – Franklin County Parkinson's patients are literally fighting back against the disease.

The Franklin County YMCA invited the public to see its Rock Steady Boxing program Friday morning. The program helps patients counter the disease, which robs people of their motor skills, by staying as active as possible.

 "When we get them on the mat, we fight Parkinson's," Franklin County YMCA wellness director Abby Jamison said. "Every punch they throw, they start to feel better."

The Franklin County YMCA started participating in the nationwide program less than a year ago, and so far three Parkinson's patients have joined the group.

"I feel it's my physical lifeline," said Sylvus Flora, one of the three participants. "The worst thing one can do is lie still and motionless."

The participants work mainly on exercises that improve their mobility by focusing on footwork and pivoting.

 "It's great seeing them just improve and moving better," Jamison said. "It's knowing that when they're walking out of here, they feel better than when they came in."

Flora has been diagnosed with Parkinson's for four years. He says the boxing has helped him move normally despite the disease.

"I've got to keep moving and keep the exercise going or I would go immobile pretty quickly," Flora said.