Connect with us

Local News

Montana gym helping Parkinson’s patients cope



Billings, Montana – It’s a perplexing illness that manifests itself in various degrees and ways, frequently making activities that most people take for granted considerably more challenging.

“I noticed my left side started moving slower and coordination wasn’t as good. Ruined my golf game,” says Billings orthodontist Buddy Kastrop, who found out that the reason was Parkinson’s.

Kastrop is one of roughly 20 individuals who participate in the Rock Steady Boxing Program on Monday and Wednesday afternoons at Rock Solid Martial Arts in Billings.

It’s a program designed to keep Parkinson’s patients active and improve their quality of life.

Gregory Todd, a former district judge for Yellowstone County, saw one of the most typical symptoms just before he stepped down from the bench.

“When I was holding papers it would kind of rattle. It was obvious that that tremor was affecting me holding them, and so that prompted going to a neurologist and verifying it,” he says.

The culprit: Parkinson’s Disease. “This tends to at least slow down the advance of symptoms of the Parkinson’s as well as just a general feeling of fitness and well-being,” says Todd.

Parkinson’s disease affects about 90,000 Americans annually, but those in this class are doing everything they can to avoid getting the disease.

And doing so entails making a few punches.

Owner of Rock Solid Martial Arts and course instructor Jonathan Waterfall. He claims that a Parkinson’s support group approached him a few years ago, and he seized the chance.

“It can help building that muscle. Firing those neurons can really help with the Parkinson’s symptoms,” he says.

There is no treatment for Parkinson’s disease. It’s a disease that progresses over time, and the symptoms often get worse, but studies have shown that moderate to intense exercise can stop the disease’s progression.

“It’s a lifesaver. I’m able to move and have more flexibility,” says Clyde Bennett, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s about 10 years ago.

“I think it is really a great thing. The one thing they have found with exercise is it is the one thing that can slow the progression of the disease, and in addition to that it is just a great community here,” said Karen Sanford Gall.

Along with boxing and other physical activities, this group also focuses on balance and fall prevention, which can be difficult for Parkinson’s patients.

“They are fighting for a better quality of life. Whether it be to get down and play with their grandkids, “says Waterfall.

Additionally, there is a shared bond among the members of the class, which makes it simpler to fight Parkinson’s.

“It’s fun and there’s the social part of the whole thing. We are all in the same boat—just at different stages,” says Bennett.

Every Monday and Wednesday in the afternoon, the class meets. Call Rock Solid Martial Arts at 406-670-0148 if you’d like more details about the course.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *