Highmark Launches Pilot with Kenmore Gym to Assist Members with Parkinson’s Disease

Members with diagnosed Parkinson’s disease will have access to training programs at Parkinson’s Boxing

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York recently announced a pilot program with Parkinson’s Boxing Gym in Kenmore 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 Oct. 1 and to enroll, members can contact the gym directly by calling 716-348-2823 or emailing 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,” said physician 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,” said 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.”