PARKINSON’S disease sufferer Walter Bennett’s (74) used to need a frame to walk until he started boxing a few months ago.
The South Yunderup resident, who’s an avid writer, choir member and composer, has suffered from Parkinson’s for 15 years and has relied on his wife Sue (70) as a full time carer since his diagnosis.
He had deep brain stimulation in March last year to help reduce his tremors and because his medication was no longer effective.
“After the brain stimulation and some complications, it took a few months to reduce the tremors and Walter was getting pretty frustrated,” Mrs Bennett said.
“He decided to try boxing to see if it would help and I believe his demeanour is better, he’s more energised, he gets up and does things now so it’s been wonderful to see.”
Mr Bennett said when he first started the classes he would come to classes, hunched over on a walker.
Since boxing he would stand for longer periods on his own or use only a walking stick.
“My wife and I saw my Parkinson’s nurse on Friday and we’ve been seeing him for years but he couldn’t believe I was walking using a stick,” Mr Bennett said.“Nobody knows exactly what has helped but we think it’s a combination of boxing and the deep brain stimulation – but the boxing has definitely given me more independence.”
Mrs Bennett said boxing would make her husband’s eyes light up.
“Since the classes, I’m okay with him driving as the strength with his legs is better and so is his memory – it’s almost been a holistic type of therapy,” she said.
Bodyworks Mandurah owner Antony Romeo, who runs the weekly boxing classes at his Mandurah studio, said he currently trains participants who have either Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. The classes are also open for anyone with mental health issues.
“Boxing and Parkinson’s work really well together because they open up the different pathways in the brain,” Mr Romeo said.
“All participants, some more so than others, have seen an overall improvement in their mental health.”
Mr Bennett said boxing has provided him with hope.
“I feel invigorated after every session until I get home and fall into a heap,” he said.