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Beating Parkinson’s: Counter Smash Meets The Uppercut

by Warren Rosenberg - MetroSports Magazine, July 22, 2021

At the 2020 annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology the results of two research studies were presented, one by Kenichi Inoue and colleagues and a second by Danielle Larson and colleagues which, respectively, detailed the benefits of table tennis and boxing for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Additional controlled scientific studies have added to this body of evidence and have helped to drive international efforts to put this knowledge into practice. Two well-known and successful programs at brining table tennis and boxing, respectively, to patients with Parkinson disease are “PingPongParkinson” and “Rock Steady Boxing”.

Each of these organizations has undergone substantial growth in recent years, spreading the benefits to a growing number of Parkinson patients. On the evening of July 21, 2021, these two movements came together at the Westchester Table Tennis Center where PingPongParkinson holds it regular Wednesday evening sessions. Featured as the evening’s keynote speaker was Manhattan’s Rock Steady Boxing head trainer, Luke Barrett. Luke is a full-time boxing and Muay Thai coach in NYC. His competitive resume includes playing two years’ collegiate basketball, winning a state boxing title and a Golden Gloves Championship in Ohio.

To the assembled group of PingPongParkinson participants, board members, and volunteers, Luke led the group through a brief, but intense, boxing workout and it was apparent just how beneficial these activities could be for enhancing balance, coordination, agility and endurance. After Luke took PingPongParkinson founder, Nenad Bach, through this vigorous boxing workout, Nenad got his revenge by taking Luke through a spirited match of table tennis.

Rock Steady Boxing is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, giving people with Parkinson’s disease hope, by improving their quality of life through a non-contact boxing based fitness curriculum. Rock Steady Boxing, the first boxing program of its kind in the country, was founded in 2006 by former Marion County (Indiana) Prosecutor, Scott C. Newman, who is living with Parkinson’s. PingPongParkinson, also a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, was founded by the internationally known composer, musician and singer, Nenad Bach. Excerpted from a book released to the public today, PingPongParkinson began with the dream of one man, an accomplished international composer and musician who found himself facing the challenge of his life: the diagnosis of Parkinson disease. It grew into an international movement, culminating in the first ever International Table Tennis Federation’s (ITTF) 2019 Parkinson’s World Table Tennis Championship. Undeterred by the physical challenges of this disease, sixty-one Parkinson patients from around the world gathered at the Westchester Table Tennis Center in Pleasantville, New York, for a three-day celebration of their abilities and their spirit."

Research Citations:

Inoue K, et al. Table tennis exercise for patients with Parkinson disease: A prospective pilot study. Presented at: American Academy of Neurology annual meeting; April 25-May 1, 2020; Toronto.

Larson D, et al. Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) participants with Parkinson’s disease have better quality of life and lower burden of non-motor symptoms than non-participants. Presented at: American Academy of Neurology annual meeting; April 25-May 1, 2020; Toronto.

The newly released book, chronicling the build-up to the first ITTF World Parkinson Table Tennis Championship and subsequent growth of the movement is available through Barnes & Noble Press at:

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