Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York today announced a pilot program with Parkinson’s Boxing Gym in Kenmore, New York, to benefit its members with Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Under the program, Highmark BCBSWNY members with a PD diagnosis can access one-on-one training at Parkinson’s Boxing for $10 a session (normally priced at $125). The non-contact boxing sessions are designed to relieve the symptoms of PD, especially those associated with balance and body movement.

The program began on October 1, 2021 and to enroll, members can contact the gym directly:
Phone: (716) 348-2823
Email: deoannou@yahoo.com

“Engaging in an activity that has proven results is vital to the health and well-being of our members who this terrible illness captures,” shared Dr. Michael Edbauer, President, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York. “We are proud to provide access to Parkinson’s Boxing and the health benefits associated with the sport.”

According to the National Parkinson’s Foundation, PD is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes the brain to produce less dopamine, making it harder for the body to coordinate movements and manage emotions.

Parkinson’s Boxing is run by Dean Eoannou, a former heavyweight boxing trainer who now helps PD patients fight through their diagnoses. Eoannou recently contributed to a Northwestern University study in 2021 that studied boxing therapy in PD, which reported that his boxers reported 87% fewer self-reported falls per month.

“Boxing therapy has been proven to make a significant difference in the quality of life of Parkinson’s patients,” added Dean Eoannou. “I commend Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York for ensuring all members affected by PD have the option of coming to our gym to counteract the symptoms of their illness.”

Studies have linked vigorous exercise to have a neuroprotective effect in PD, providing increasing evidence that suggests ongoing vigorous exercise and physical activity may favorably influence the progression of the disease. Patients studied in previous case studies involving boxing and PD shows improvements in balance, gait, activities of daily living, and quality of life, according to the American Physical Therapy Association.

One Highmark BCBSWNY member who has benefited from Parkinson’s Boxing is former Congressman and member of the Michael J. Fox foundation board Jack Quinn. Diagnosed with PD in 2014, Quinn has been a client and community advocate of the gym over the last few years.

“I want to personally thank Dr. Michael Edbauer and his team, for recognizing a treatment which provides a win/win situation. Parkinson’s Boxing has proven to help the patient, it helps the family caregivers, and it saves valuable resources over the long haul. I believe this decision puts Buffalo
‘on the map’ nationally, in assisting Parkinson’s Disease patients.” said Quinn.