COVID-19 Update: Information and resources can be found here.

Local Dallas gym offers Parkinson's patients hope

The diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be devastating. But one UT Southwestern School of Health Professions alumnus is helping patients “knock out” the damaging side effects through boxing.


[Narrator] Life is not about how hard of a hit you can give. It's about how many you can take, and keep moving forward.

I was diagnosed about three years ago. The first thing I thought of was, this is not the plan I had for my life.

[Narrator] For 61 year old Judy Danielson, a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease has her in a fight for her life.

I was doing physical therapy at UT Southwestern Gait Clinic, with Heather Mowry. And Heather said, "Judy there's this boxing program I want you to really consider." And I said, "Okay, I'll try it."

[Narrator] That boxing program is a part of Tribe Wellness, a physical therapy gym that offers close to a dozen non contact boxing classes for people with Parkinson's.

When we get to punch stuff there's tremendous amount of stress relief.

[Narrator] UT Southwestern's School of Health Professions alumni, Dr. Mike Braitsch created this program.

Our classes incorporate big dynamic functional movements, balance training, aerobic exercise, to improve cerebral blood flow, and circulation throughout the body.

[Narrator] After spending years in the financial industry, he discovered his calling was in helping patients like Danielson.

In some ways, we're trying to fight back against impairments associated with Parkinson's. In other ways, we're trying to slow the progression of symptoms.

[Narrator] It was a movement UT Southwestern physical therapist Dr. Stacy Shearin also wanted to join.

It's a really wonderful way to be in a group setting that's fun, but also get that really wonderful high intensity exercise that really has a potential to impact your disease.

[Narrator] And impact the education of rising physical therapist, like Brandon Newsom. A current UT Southwestern student gaining hands on experience with patients.

I don't think without UT Southwestern, I would've had access to programs like this, and been able just to learn everything I've learned, and be as prepared as I feel I am. Mike is a great example for all of us, 'cause he was at UT Southwestern just a couple years ago.

From the beginning, it's been really exciting to see the different areas at UT Southwestern come together to create and really push forward this program.

[Narrator] And the improvements folks like Judy have experienced, not only physically, but emotionally are astounding.

It has made just a vast difference. Just not only in my balance, and my walking, and my strength, but just in my emotional self. But it's just about so much more than just boxing.