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Rehabilitation Hospital, Navicent Health is Raising Awareness of Parkinsons Disease

older woman wearing pink boxing gloves

April is recognized as Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month in the U.S., and Rehabilitation Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent is calling attention to this chronic condition, and variety of available services that can help those with Parkinson's disease (PD) and their loved ones.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually, and progress differently in each individual, but the most common symptoms include tremors, limb rigidity, loss of smell, trouble sleeping, small handwriting, and gait and balance issues. Nearly one million Americans are living with PD, and many cases go undetected and undiagnosed.

Although the cause of PD is unknown and there is currently no cure, therapies and support can assist and empower patients and their loved ones, allowing them to enjoy the highest quality of life while living with PD. Rehabilitation Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent offers those living with PD a wide variety of treatment options to help overcome the effects of the disease.

Power Over Parkinson's is a 12-week exercise and education program for those recently diagnosed with PD. Power over Parkinson's participants and caregivers will receive an initial assessment and orientation with the program coordinator and fitness trainer. The coordinator and trainer will develop a series of exercise programs, nutrition, and education sessions designed to help people affected by PD and their caregivers during and after the 12 week session. Activities include chair exercises, stretching, aerobic activity and resistance training. The class meets each Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at Wellness Center, Atrium Health Navicent (3797 Northside Drive, Macon).

In addition, Rehabilitation Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent - in partnership with Macon-Bibb County Parks and Recreation - now offers Rock Steady Boxing, a PD-specific therapeutic exercise program. PD participants and their loved ones warm up with a series of exercises, then practice boxing with bags and sparing with trainers.

"Exercise is a vital component to maintaining balance, mobility and daily living activities for those affected by Parkinson's disease. Exercise can improve gait, balance, tremors, flexibility, grip strength and motor coordination. Boxing is a fun way - and often a new means of exercise - that those with PD really enjoy," said Jennifer Peth, OT with Rehabilitation Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent.

Classes are offered Monday and Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., and Monday and Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., at Freedom Center, 3301 Roff Ave. in Macon. For more information, call 478-201-6500.

Rehabilitation Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent also offers BIG and LOUD physical therapies to help those with PD improve motor skills. BIG therapy is an exercise therapy that uses exaggerated movement to improve balance, trunk rotation and faster walking speed with larger steps, to avoid the shuffling and falling risk common for those with PD. Patients in the program learn to use bigger movements and exert more effort to produce the normal movements used for everyday activities. Similarly, LOUD voice training improves voice and speech for those with PD, who may become soft-spoken as the condition progresses.

Monthly PD support groups meet at Rehabilitation Hospital, Atrium Health Navicent (3351 Northside Drive, Macon) on the third Thursday of each month at 2:00 p.m. Those with PD and their caregivers are able to find support and build a community with others facing similar challenges, while also learning about new therapies, breakthroughs in treatment, exercise and nutrition tailored specifically for those with PD.

For more information on options available for those with PD, please visit

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent, the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia, is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Providing more than 1,000 beds and offering care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region, Atrium Health Navicent provides care for healthcare consumers' through an academic medical center; community, pediatric and rehabilitation hospitals; urgent care centers; physician practices; diagnostic centers; home health; hospice and palliative care; and a life plan community. Atrium Health Navicent is dedicated enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally-recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. For more information, please visit