Parkersburg YMCA Parkinson’s program receives financial boost

The Rock Steady Boxing Program, an exercise program for people fighting Parkinson’s Disease at the YMCA of Parkersburg, received a grant of $1,819 from the David A. Couch ALS Neuromuscular Disease Fund administered by the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation. From the left, YMCA Chief Operating Officer Chris Welshans, David A. Couch, Jane Couch, Debbie Couch Amigo, and program Coach Emily Taylor. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — The Rock Steady Boxing program at the YMCA received a grant Thursday from a fund established by the family of a man who died from Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The David A. Couch ALS Neuromuscular Disease Fund was named after the late Wood County Commissioner David A. Couch, who died in December 2001 from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, two years after the diagnosis.

Couch’s wife Jane Couch and children Blair Couch and Debbie Couch Amigo on Thursday presented the ceremonial check for $1,819 to the YMCA through the fund administered by the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation.

The Couch grant will be used for scholarships to the program, Solomia Wilson, marketing director at the YMCA, said.

The YMCA became an affiliate of Rock Steady Boxing in spring 2022. The program improves the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease through a non-contact, boxing-based fitness curriculum.

Emily Taylor attended the training in Indianapolis to become a certified coach. She has worked in physical therapy and with Parkinson’s patients for more than 20 years.

Rock Steady Boxing uses classic boxing drills.

Boxer’s train for agility, speed, muscular endurance, accuracy, hand-eye coordination, footwork and strength. Parkinson’s patients focus on similar training.

Studies in the 1980s and 1990s show that vigorous exercise, balance, core strength and rhythm could relieve some Parkinson’s symptoms. A recent study from the Cleveland Clinic shows that intense exercise can be neuro-protective, which means that it can actually slow the progression of the disease. Patients who have participated in Rock Steady Boxing have experienced improved quality of life.

Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disorder, can cause the deterioration of motor skills, balance, speech and sensory function. Among symptoms are unexplainable tremors primarily in the hands, slowness in movement, limb stiffness, gait and balance problems.

More than a million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease and another 60,000 people are diagnosed each year, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

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