How much do you know about Parkinson's disease?

April is Parkinson's Awareness Month, but how much do you actually know about this movement disorder? It's more common than you think.

Meredith Garofalo

Apr 28, 2022, 11:56 PM

Updated 816 days ago


April is Parkinson's Awareness Month, but how much do you actually know about this movement disorder? It's more common than you think.
You can find Long Island native Bruce Swenson in boxing gloves three times a week.  But unlike your typical exercise class, this fitness routine has been lifechanging after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2019.
“When it first occurred, needless to say, it was the end of my life, you know,” Swenson said. “A ‘What am I going to do now?’ kind of thing.”
Parkinson's disease is a disorder that causes uncontrollable movements such as shaking and stiffness.
“It was excess tremors, and your hand, your arm, I had to do something about it because it was painful for a while,” Swenson said.
With progression, the disease can lead to traumatic life changes, including difficulty walking and talking. But despite no cure yet, studies show that through exercise, music and movement therapy such as dancing, those diagnosed can greatly improve their life.
“I think especially, as you know, as you're aging through your disease, having people who understand what you're going through, and being able to kind of rally together, is also amazing,” said Sabrina Swenson, Bruce’s daughter.
There are many things that you might not know about Parkinson’s. For example, a lot of people think it's genetic but there are many ways to get Parkinson’s and at any age.
“My father, he actually had Parkinson's disease and he was diagnosed in his 30s,” said Charles Siguenza, the Parkinson's Wellness Coordinator at the New York Institute of Technology.  He added there's lots of environmental factors that trigger the condition.  "A lot of veterans with Agent Orange, head injuries, a lot of football players, car accidents, can cause the head injury, multiple ways that Parkinson’s can arise.”
And with close to 1 million people living with Parkinson's in the United States alone, and tens of thousands diagnosed on average each year, programs like Rock Steady Boxing at New York Tech are helping give them a fighting chance.
“The boxing, the energy that you have to put into it, the intensity that you put into it, definitely helps you,” Swenson said. “It's like I'm in the best shape I've been in my life.”
The final two days of Parkinson's Awareness Month are also the "Dance for Parkinson's Community Festival," which you can take part in anywhere in the world and have access to free classes, discussions, film screenings and more. (REGISTER HERE:




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