Health and Wellness

In Rock Steady Boxing, Parkinson's patients punch back

LACONIA — Exercise is important for anyone's health, but for people with Parkinson's disease, keeping to an exercise regimen is specifically recommended. It can be difficult, dangerous or even embarrassing for Parkinson's sufferers to engage in typical workouts, though, and that's why Janine Page, owner of the Downtown Gym, is bringing an exercise program to Laconia designed specifically for people with Parkinson's.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement, with symptoms that include tremors, slowed movement and impaired balance. The Mayo Clinic says that exercise helps people with Parkinson's by increasing muscle strength, flexibility and balance, as well as reducing anxiety and depression. However, once the disease progresses to the point where tremors become visible, a person afflicted with the disease might feel uncomfortable exercising in a gym where others are present, and the loss of balance could make walking or jogging risky. Responding to these challenges, the program Rock Steady Boxing was developed ten years ago in Indiana by former Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman, who was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's when he was 40. He developed the program for himself, and found that the workout, using many of the same exercises that boxers use to train for bouts, improved his quality of life. 

Rock Steady Boxing participants engage in rigorous exercise that emphasizes gross motor movement, balance, core strength and rhythm, which some studies suggest could slow the progression of the disease. Even if the program doesn't battle Parkinson's, it allows people to work out together in a supportive atmosphere, which will certainly have a positive effect on their physical health.


"We know exercise is good for everyone," she said. For people with Parkinson's, she added that Rock Steady Boxing is, "a safe environment where people can be challenged within their capabilities." Page has already had several people reach out to her to express their interest in the program, and she welcomes participants of all abilities, from people recently diagnosed with the disease to people who require the use of a wheelchair.

She plans to have two classes each week, exclusive for people with Parkinson's and volunteers there to support them. The classes will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and at 6:15 on Thursdays. Page said participants will be charged an "affordable rate." An information meeting is scheduled for January 25 at 5:30 p.m.

Page, who recently returned from Indianapolis, where she trained at the Rock Steady gym, said that she knew she wanted to bring the program to Laconia from the moment she learned about it. For her, exercise isn't simply about blood pressure and muscle mass, it's about being in control of one's own well-being. And that's what she saw when she was learning about Rock Steady Boxing.

"You're giving them the tools so they can be empowered," she said. "It's so beautiful for people to get their lives back." 

The Downtown Gym is located at 171 Fair Street in Laconia, and can be reached at 603-581-9392 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 DSC 0533 DS

Janine Page, owner of the Downtown Gym in Laconia, is adding a boxing-based exercise program, designed for people with Parkinson's disease to her gym. An informational meeting is scheduled for Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

'Living Well' workshops designed for people with chronic conditions

TILTON — LRGHealthcare is offering a free six-week workshop, "Living Well- Better Choices, Better Health" for people with an ongoing health concern such as chronic pain, diabetes or arthritis, and would like to learn how to better manage this health concern so that they can do the things you want to do.

The workshop will be offered on Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. to noon, beginning Jan. 18, at the Franklin Savings Bank Community Learning Center in Tilton. Those attending the workshops will apply skills for living a full, healthy life with a chronic condition, learn to set weekly goals and develop a practical step-by-step plan for improving health and quality of life. Weekly topics include healthy eating, physical activity, relieving stress, pain and fatigue management, and more.

Workshop leaders will guide participants through this proven program developed by the Stanford University School of Medicine. These sessions are ideal for anyone living with a chronic health condition or a caregiver of someone with a chronic health condition.

For more information or to register for the workshops, call LRGHealthcare Education Services at 603-527-7120.

LRGHealthcare Offers Strong Women Strength Training

LACONIA — LRGHealthcare is pleased to offer a limited number of openings in the very popular Strong Women Strength Training program. "This national women's fitness program is designed to improve and increase your strength, balance, bone density and arthritis symptoms," said Carolyn Muller, Community Health Improvement Specialist at LRGHealthcare.

The program, now in its 11th year, is offered Monday and Wednesdays from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Laconia Community Center. The cost of the program is $35. The next session will begin Wednesday, Jan. 4, and end Wednesday, March 15.

For more information or to register,  contact Carolyn at 527-2948. Space is limited.

Glaucoma: What Seniors Should Know

By Martha Swats, Owner/Administrator, Comfort Keepers

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve and result in vision loss. It is also the second leading cause of blindness. Glaucoma occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises and up to 40 percent of a person's vision can be lost without them even noticing. However, with early treatment, your eyes can be protected against serious vision loss.

Why Do Some Seniors Develop Glaucoma?
In the front of the eye is the anterior chamber. A clear fluid continuously flows in and out of the chamber, nourishing nearby tissues. The fluid leaves the chamber at the open angle where the cornea and iris meet. When the fluid reaches the angle, it flows through a spongy meshwork that acts like a drain, and leaves
the eye. Sometimes, when the fluid reaches the angle, it passes too slowly through the meshwork drain. As the fluid builds up, the pressure inside the eye rises to a level that may damage the optic nerve and vision loss may result.
That's why controlling pressure inside the eye is important.

Not every person with increased eye pressure will develop glaucoma. Some people can tolerate higher eye pressure better than others. A comprehensive dilated eye exam can help your eye care professional determine what level of eye pressure is normal for you.

Most Common Types of Glaucoma in Seniors

Open-angle Glaucoma: The most common type of glaucoma, affecting nearly three million Americans, this form results in a slow, painless loss of peripheral vision. It happens when the eye's drainage canals become clogged over time.
Vision damaged this way is like looking through a paper towel tube. Most people have no symptoms and no early warning signs, and may not notice sight loss for many years. This type usually responds well to medication, especially if caught early and treated.

Low-Tension or Normal-Tension Glaucoma: Optic nerve damage and narrowed side vision can occur in people with normal eye pressure. Lowering eye pressure by at least 30 percent through medicines slows this form of disease in some, however, it may worsen in others despite low pressures. A comprehensive medical history is important in identifying potential risk factors, such as low blood pressure. If no risk factors are identified, the treatment options are the same as for open-angle glaucoma.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma: In this type of glaucoma, the fluid at the front of the eye cannot reach the angle and leave the eye, and the angle gets blocked by part of the iris. This results in a sudden increase in eye pressure. Symptoms include severe pain and nausea, redness of the eye, and blurred vision. If you have these symptoms, you need to seek medical emergency treatment immediately. Without treatment, the eye can become blind in as few as one or two days. Usually, prompt laser surgery and medicines can clear the blockage and protect sight.

There are also rare types of glaucoma that can affect seniors. For example, pigmentary glaucoma occurs when pigment from the iris flakes off and blocks the meshwork, slowing fluid, particularly threatening to vision over a lifetime. Trauma-related glaucoma can be caused by a serious blow to the eye, chemical burn, or a penetrating injury.

What Seniors Can Do
Presently, there is no cure for glaucoma. However, medication or surgery can help slow or prevent further vision loss.
The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma a person has.
Over time, some drugs may stop working or have negative interactions with other prescriptions. Only a physician can appropriately monitor glaucoma and glaucoma medications. If you are being treated for glaucoma, be sure to take your glaucoma medicine every day.

Studies have shown that the early detection and treatment before there is major vision loss is the best way to control the disease. Make sure to have your eyes regularly examined through dilated pupils by an eye care professional. After the age of 40, get an exam every two to four years, and annually after the age of 55. Full annual exams are recommended for those over age 50 with a family history of glaucoma.

Laconia Clinic neurologist achieves recertification in headache medicine

LACONIA — Laconia Clinic neurologist Philip V. Savia Jr., MD, has received recertification in the specialty of headache medicine. Dr. Savia is certified in the subspecialty of headache medicine by the Council for Neurologic Subspecialties and is one of only a few neurologists in the state of New Hampshire to have this specialty certification.

Dr. Savia has been in practice for 26 years and joined Laconia Clinic in 2009. Prior to that, he spent 20 years as the medical director of the Salt Lake Headache Clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah. He treats both adults and children over the age of 16 and offers treatment options such as Botox, nerve blocks, trigger point injections, and more. In addition to his certification in headache medicine, Dr. Savia is also certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology with special qualifications in child neurology.

Dr. Savia is accepting new patients.