A health policy perspective: Evaluating the delivery of boxing programs for PD in canada


Boxing is one of the most 'media-popular' promoted exercise interventions for individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD). However, there are only two scientific studies attempting to validate its effectiveness. Neither study was able to confirm PD-specific symptoms improvement, yet this disproportionate focus on boxing in the media has accelerated the existence of numerous programs internationally. The questionable delivery, along with the minimal scientific evidence raises concerns regarding the effectiveness, safety (qualifications of instructors/assessment tools) and the costs of these programs. Thus, our study evaluated the delivery of boxing programs in Canada using data gathered from telephone-interviews. Boxing programs were searched for using Google (the most popular search engine) and telephone-interviews were conducted guided by a questionnaire developed by the principal investigator. Programs (n=46) were identified and divided into Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) (affiliates share similarities in delivery of exercise) and private boxing programs. Data was analyzed using SPSS, Chi-square tests and descriptive statistics were conducted. Most boxing programs state boxing reduces PD progression, even though not all facilities effectively monitor disease progression. Further, only 4% of RSB and 24% of private boxing program instructors had a background (education/volunteer experience) in Parkinson's prior to running a boxing program for those with PD. However, individuals are charged a participation fee. Based on the findings, this paper made policy recommendations to promote improved delivery of boxing programs for PD in Canada, and has led to the development of my Master's thesis which will be described (an boxing RCT) at the conclusion of this presentation.

Acknowledgments: Movement Disorders Research and Rehabilitation Centre and Wilfrid Laurier University