Purpose: To explore the perceptions of individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) on their experiences within a community based, non-contact boxing program. Specifically, this study considered how these individuals perceived non-contact boxing to influence their social and community engagement and factors influencing ongoing participation in this program. Method: This was a phenomenological case study that utilized qualitative methods for data collection including semi-structured interviews and observation. Colaizzi’s method was used for data analysis. A convenience sample obtained from a boxing club that offered PD specific boxing classes was used. The sample included 10 participants (3 female, 7 male) ranging in age from 52 to 84 years. Participants typically attended a 75 minute boxing class two to three times per week. Results: The exhaustive description of the phenomenon was that individuals with PD have a strong desire to maintain the life they had prior to their diagnosis and chose activities, such as non-contact boxing, which supported their ability to sustain that lifestyle. Two themes were identified which included 1) “The people I’ve met here and spent time with will be friends forever” and 2) “I don’t have to be Muhammed Ali. It’s not about that.” Conclusions: This study provided a basic understanding of the subjective experiences of individuals with PD who participated in non-contact boxing. Findings demonstrated that non-contact boxing facilitates the growth of supportive relationship for individuals with PD. The study also found that individuals with PD believe non-contact boxing provided a variety of physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits which facilitated their ability to maintain participation in valued activities.

Author Bio(s)

Casey E. Humphrey, OTD, MHA, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor at Eastern Kentucky University in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

Dana M. Howell, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA is a Professor at Eastern Kentucky University in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

Melba Custer, PhD, OT/L is a hand therapist in a private clinic and an Associate Professor at Spalding University.





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