DENVER (KDVR) — April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, the disease affects 10 million people worldwide.
An estimated 1.2 million people in the U.S. alone will be living with Parkinson’s disease by 2030.
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately the dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain. There is no cure for Parkinson’s but there are many treatment options that can lessen the symptoms.
Brian Rase is a retired pharmacist and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease several years ago. When Rase moved to St. Andrew’s Village in Aurora, he couldn’t walk across the room without a walker.
He participates in several activities like water aerobics, hydrogen therapy, and boxing. Along with his prescribed medications, his balance and cognitive function are improving.
FOX31 and Channel 2 caught up with him while he was boxing.
“We don’t hit each other, we’re at this point we’re just hitting the bag and running,” Rase said. “It helps balance the hand-eye coordination movements. The bag does not hit back. Our coach Tammy is convinced it might, so we do a little ducking and dodging.”
There is a system called the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) that determines how severe the disease is in a person. The lower the number the better.
Three years ago when Rase came to Colorado his number was 52, and about six weeks ago his number was 30.
From boxing to something out of a sci-movie, Rase wears multiple gloves. He was able to participate in a clinical trial of sorts, testing out vibrotactile gloves.
The gloves vibrate each finger with the goal to disrupt abnormal brain function and improve motor function.
“Once I get the thing started, I can go anywhere. The setup will be a rotating, vibrating pattern that will go through each finger and just keeps recycling. So, I’ll do this about three times a week on average. I can go anywhere, do anything I want, or can do with these gloves,” said Rase.
Rase said the gloves even help provide relief in between doses of his Parkinson’s medication.
The exact cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, but scientists believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Rase said he wants to get the word out about genetic testing as well, which can provide insight into whether you might get the disease.