‘Life-changing’: Class that helps those afflicted with Parkinson’s marks one-year anniversary

Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 6:05 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A class helping those with Parkinson’s disease connect with one another and improve their overall quality of life is marking its one-year anniversary and those who are participating say it’s been life-changing.

The Parkinson’s class at the Ted & Sue Getterman Wellness Center on Bosque Blvd. in Waco takes place every Tuesday and Thursday and is open to the public. The mission is to promote a healthy lifestyle with exercise for those living with the progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by nerves.

Curtis Holland, 83, a former chaplain at Hillcrest, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s three years ago and said a neurologist gave him advice he took to heart.

“He told me he was going to put me on some medication to help me and the thing I needed most was exercise,” Holland said, “I joined the Parkinson’s group and that’s where I found the help that was really good for me.”

Kason Crowell and Cassidy Stieg are the exercise physiologists who lead the class, which includes stretching, weightlifting, boxing, memory, and balancing activities.

“With Parkinson’s, sometimes you’ll see tremors or shrugged shoulders and we kind of use exercises to use the shoulders, push them back and show them how they can work around those tremors and work around what they’re dealing with,” Crowell said.

Stieg says multiple people have been able to accomplish new goals they couldn’t do before attending the class.

“Some of the patients, whenever they reach a goal, they’ll come in, and they haven’t really done a lot, and they’ll start working with the class and they’re like, ‘oh you know what? I don’t have to use my cane as much’ or ‘I don’t have to do this as much’ or ‘somebody asks me a question and I just answer it like that because we just talked about it in class the other day.’”

Another big goal of the gathering is to help connect those struggling with the disease with one another.

“They like the community feel, so sometimes at the end of class, they’ll stay and talk a little bit, Stieg said. “They’ll ask questions for people who have been diagnosed for a longer period of time than others or just asking, ‘hey, you’re on a trip, you’re back, what are you going to do?’ It’s much more than the strength and conditioning class. It’s also the community.”

Holland says it’s that sense of community that keeps him coming back week after week. He also says it’s the reason he encourages anyone living with Parkinson’s disease to consider attending.

“The group is really like a family because, you know, everyone is in your shoes,” Holland said. “They may not be as far along as you are, or they may have been further along that you are, but the group supports one another, and they encourage one another by letting them know they can do what they can do.”

The Parkinson’s class takes place Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. at the Ted & Sue Getterman Wellness Center.

You can call the office at 254-202-3800 for more information.