New York skilled nursing residents recently stepped into the ring with a Hall of Fame boxer to celebrate the opening of their facility’s Parkinson’s rehabilitation program. 

Oasis Rehabilitation and Nursing, a 100-bed skilled nursing facility in Center Moriches, NY, welcomed former world champion boxer Michael Spinks to help mark the opening of its first Parkinson’s Diseases Rehabilitation program in the area. 

The program offers individualized physical, occupational and speech therapies, exercise groups, including a Parkinson’s boxing class, for residents. The boxing classes are designed to help increase strength, improve hand-eye coordination and posture, relieve symptoms for soft-voice disorders, improve balance, agility and reaction time and give patients better cognitive processing.

“It is our goal to maximize function and quality of life in individuals affected by Parkinson’s Disease,” said Shari Gessner, the program coordinator.

Spinks, who competed from 1977 to 1988, kicked off the occasion by hosting the program’s first boxing class and even sparred with some participants. He held the undisputed light heavyweight title from 1983 to 1985, and the lineal heavyweight title from 1985 to 1988.

The Parkinson-specific boxing class will be offered to both patients and caregivers. 

“Through my 15 years of experience teaching Parkinson’s boxing, I have seen a remarkable improvement in patient’s Parkinson’s symptoms,” Gessner said. “I am excited to be bringing this exercise therapy to the patients here at Oasis Rehab and Nursing.”

The provider scored a knockout with this new program, something it hopes residents will enjoy for a long time.