AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s a disease that will affect 60,000 Americans this year alone. Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder affecting millions around the world.
There is no cure.
While medication is critical in slowing the disease, a growing number of people are finding the body and mind can benefit from another type of prescription — exercise.
That’s where Power for Parkinson’s comes in. The non-profit has been around for 4 years, encouraging Parkinson’s patients to move. Group exercise instructors are trained on Parkinson’s symptoms to focus on small, controlled movements to counteract them.
“Every single person has a different case so, one person could have a tremor and then other person has trouble with their balance or gait,” said Dr. Nina Mosier, co-founder of Power for Parkinson’s. “But this makes a huge difference in their lives.”
Mosier, M.D. and her business partner Susan Stahl, M.Ed., are no strangers to Parkinson’s. Mosier’s father is currently battling Parkinson’s, Stahl’s father lost his battle.
The two opened this business back in 2013 so people won’t have excuses to slow the diseases progression, which exercise has proven to do. “We have people that have come to us in a wheelchair and now can stand on their own,” Mosier said.
The first classes seemed bare. Three classes a week with just 40 people, but as the disease started taking hold of more people, the classes started growing.
“Now we serve over 250 people every week so it really speaks to the need of something like this in the community,” Stahl said.
It’s a need being fulfilled for free. All classes are at no charge because the benefits may be priceless. “I think it’s really made a difference in the way he walks and the confidence he has when he walks,” said Linda Leff who brings her husband Leonard to classes three times a week.
For others like Martha Davis, these classes are her lifeline. “I was diagnosed in the summer of 2010 and it was devastating. This is a lifesaver.”
Instructors say it’s more than just the physical fix — the classroom style setting serves as a reminder, you’re not alone.
“We have people that go to lunch every single day, they have friends now they travel together, carpool together,” Mosier said. “And they don’t miss a class because they feel like it’s like taking their medication, they wouldn’t miss a dose of their medication.”
Power for Parkinson’s relies on donations to offer 11 free classes every week at 8 different locations.It’s open to all Parkinson’s patients and their care givers.
“It sounds like a cliche to say that these classes have been lifesavers for us, but they really have,” Leff said.
The group also have free workout videos on Youtube, it has been used and shared by 50 countries around the world.