Parkinson Disease

Live Well

As many as one million Americans have Parkinson’s Disease, a progressive brain disorder that often starts as a tremor but over time can lead to muscle rigidity, and difficulty walking, talking, and completing simple tasks. Even though it is the second most common neurodegenerative disease following Alzheimer’s disease, basic information about Parkinson Disease is lacking, such as whether it affects ethnic or other population groups differently, and if patterns of disease are changing.

Physical therapy and exercise has been shown to help with Parkinson Disease symptoms in two ways:

  • Symptom management. Exercise can improve gait, balance, tremor, flexibility, grip strength and motor coordination.
  • Possibly slowing disease progression. One Parkinson's Outcomes Project study has proven that people with PD who vigorously exercise for 2.5 hours per week show a slowed decline in quality of life, and the sooner they begin vigorous workouts after diagnosis, the better.

Parkinson’s patients need to focus on big movements, and intense/vigorous exercise (intensity matters). There are boxing classes available for individuals at Parkinson's at the University of Utah Boxing Club and at Rock Steady Boxing. Boxing will help those with Parkinson's as:

  • boxing uses big/strong movements
  • footwork helps with mobility/balance/gait
  • punching a mitt or bag helps hand eye coordination
  •  there is also yelling when punching which helps the quiet voice that comes with PD
  • and it’s fun. With exercise being such an important aspect of maintaining quality of life it’s important to have exercise that is challenging, keeps your attention and mixes things up (this is important for anyone).


The Utah Department of Health has created a registry designed to track important diseases like Parkinson, cancer and autism.

What is the Utah Parkinson's Disease Registry?

A registry capturing patients from an entire geographic area - especially one in which the disease is common - will be one-of- a-kind in the world. The registry will have direct benefits to healthcare planning for the state, and also for patients and researchers world-wide. The registry is designed to be an initial step in the conquest of this disease. It will be used as a research tool to learn more about Parkinson Disease and who gets it. As we gather more information from the registry, the hope is it will help target interventions such as exercise and support groups to better help those with the disease.

Who will report information in the registry?

The Registry Rule asks physicians/surgeons, and other health care practitioners as well as hospitals, health care facilities and other agencies diagnosing and treating PD patients to report their cases and allow access to their records by authorized Registry staff.

Reporting by patients is encouraged, although it is entirely voluntary.

To sign up for Utah’s Parkinson’s disease registry, click here

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