Boxing and Its Effect on Parkinson’s Disease

This article was researched and documented by Kim C, PT.

Mr. NR is an 85 year old male and a current patient of mine.

He is a former professional boxer and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease roughly eight years ago. Much has been written about the possible link between Parkinson’s disease and boxing, largely due to Mohammad Ali.

Mr. NR, however, brought to my attention an article he had recently read about boxing as a form of treatment for patients with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

Having a significant number of patients on my caseload (both currently and previously), with this particular diagnosis, I did a little research to see what studies had been conducted on the effectiveness of boxing as a form of treatment/therapy.

The Journal of American Physical Therapy Association published an article titled “Boxing Training for patients with Parkinson Disease: A Case Series.”

The primary purpose was to look at the effects of boxing training on changes in balance, mobility, and quality of life in patients with mild, moderate, or severe Parkinson’s disease.

Six patients with Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease attended 24-36 boxing training sessions for 12 weeks.  They were given the option to continue the training for an additional 24 weeks.  The sessions ran for 90 minutes and included boxing drills, and traditional stretching/strengthening and endurance exercises.

Outcomes were tested at baseline, and then again at 12, 24, and 36 weeks.

Measures included:

  • Functional Reach Test
  • Timed up and Go
  • 6 minute walk test
  • Unified Parkinson’s disease Rating Scale
  • Parkinson’s Disease Quality of Life Scale


All six patients showed improvement on 5 out of the 12 outcome measures at 12 weeks, and continued improvements at 24 and 36 weeks.


There was a measurable and significant improvement in balance, gait, activities of daily living, and quality of life following the boxing training program.  For maximal training outcomes it was determined that a longer duration of training was necessary.  The boxing training program was deemed to be feasible and safe for patients with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease


Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition and as yet there is no guaranteed “cure”. In the 10 odd years I have been working in Home Care in NYC, I have found myself treating more and more patients with Parkinson’s Disease. Being able to offer patients a variety of treatment options (if deemed appropriate and determined on a case by case basis) of both the “traditional” and “non traditional” variations is instrumental in our role as rehabilitation specialists.


Schaneman Lindsay Conn, Kendra Davis, Nicole Lewis and Katie Stephanie A. Combs, M. Dyer Diehl, William H. Staples, A Case Series

How Outreach Can Help

We provide in-home Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy to individuals that have a difficult time getting/going to an out-patient rehabilitation facility on a consistent basis, prefer not to go to a facility, or those that are more effectively treated within their home.

We also have an out-patient clinic at 1110 2nd Avenue in the Sutton Place/UES area where we provide therapy for those who are adamant about receiving care in a clinic setting. Our evaluations are 45 minutes and treatments are one-to-one with an ample amount of treatment time per client (no double bookings allowed.)