Program delays progression of Parkinson's disease

The CLIMB is in 4 locations across Ind.

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. - Parkinson’s is a debilitating disease without a cure, but a specially designed class is helping delay the effects of Parkinson’s.

Addie Cunningham started doing research after her father was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2008. She immediately got him into a physical therapy program.

"My dad worked one-on-one with a physical therapist and realized the benefits of exercise and the stretching and all of that. So from there, we formed The CLIMB program," Cunningham, with Indiana Parkinson Foundation, said.

The CLIMB started out as a small group of 11 people who met at a local church, but it has quickly grown and expanded.

At the class in Noblesville, physical therapists now work with 60 patients a week. Some patients had no idea that specific stretches could slow Parkinson's progression.

"I think a lot of times you don't know what to do. There's probably a couple husbands suffering with the disease and the wife is taking care of them and it's nice to see that there's others out there, that there's hope, that there's stretches and massages and trainers who know what they're doing," Chet Klene said.

Klene volunteered his time to organize the Indiana Parkinson Foundation's first walk/run, with all the money raised going to expand The CLIMB. 

He said the cause is close to his heart as he has watched his uncle battle the disease.

"It's something that they went through alone. For years my aunt was taking care of him all alone. And somewhere like The CLIMB would have been a godsend for her. And allow them to have others to talk to and ideas to share," Klene said.

Raymond Gugel, 85, couldn't get out of his wheelchair when he started the classes about a year and a half ago. Now he trots around the gym.

He and his wife are glad to be part of a program with others who face the same uphill climb.

"We feel if he's going through it or she's going through it, I can do it too," Gugel said.

The CLIMB is a nonprofit program that offers classes in Noblesville, Indianapolis, Greenwood and will be starting classes in South Bend soon.

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