Punching Back Against Parkinson’s Disease
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Punching Back Against Parkinson’s Disease

Dr. Scott Karlin packs a punch in advancing non-profit classes to benefit people with Parkinson’s.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Dr. Scott Karlin (far right) and wife Jodi (flowered shirt) with Sandra Spielberger (center), Michelle Schwartz (far left), and family and friends.
Dr. Scott Karlin (far right) and wife Jodi (flowered shirt) with Sandra Spielberger (center), Michelle Schwartz (far left), and family and friends.

After his own diagnosis made it potentially too difficult to maintain quality care in his practice, otolaryngologist Scott Karlin, M.D., made the decision to retire in 2018. He joined the nonprofit Livramento Delgado Boxing Foundation (LDBF). Recognizing an opportunity to assist this local organization in its fight against a formidable “enemy” in Parkinson’s disease, he went all in and accepted a position to head their fundraising efforts.

The program, which began in 2013, is based on medical research findings that exercise — especially boxing — can improve Parkinson’s symptoms and delay their progress. Additionally, the program’s mission is to enhance safety, prolong independence, encourage socialization and promote physical, emotional and cognitive well-being.

Exercise lifts the body and mind at the studio.

Karlin says, “There are 1 million people in the USA with Parkinson’s disease, increasing by 60,000 a year. There are 30,000 cases in Georgia and 20 percent of those with Parkinson’s disease develop dementia. Our boxing program offers a combination of mind and body training in our workouts which can help maintain brain function. Our boxing program provides mobility and quality of life optimization. I myself box 4-5 times a week.”

LDBF boxing for Parkinson’s started in 2013, but after Karlin came on board, he helped take the program to a new level by promoting it on social media and contacting family and friends for sponsorship opportunities. Sandra Spielberger and Michelle Schwartz, daughters of Estelle and Walter Strauss, were some of the generous donors. Walter, who fled Nazi Germany in his youth and later operated Walter’s Clothing Store in downtown Atlanta, passed away at 94. Many illustrious Atlantans, including former mayor Kasim Reed, mourned the death of the man he “considered a friend.”

After learning about the program, Sandra and Michelle wished that their late father had such a valuable tool in his fight against Parkinson’s disease. They dedicated much-needed funds to expand programs and services in the new state-of-the-art facility at 6667 Vernon Woods Drive in Sandy Springs, now named The Walter and Estelle Strauss Wellness Center in honor of their parents.

Patients benefit from no-contact punches.

Karlin has been invigorated by the program’s expansion to include other populations with movement challenges, including Multiple Sclerosis, Young Onset Parkinson’s disease (YOPD), and combat veterans. Provided services include a social worker, nutritionist, and massage therapist. Karlin said, “Here we have the common goal of maintaining self sufficiency under the umbrella of movement challenges. LDBF is managed by a nine-member volunteer board of directors and an advisory board that includes top healthcare professionals, including physical therapists and movement disorder specialists.”

The boxing facility in Sandy Springs offers a variety of programs. Caregivers are encouraged to participate.

The center is open six days a week and is fully equipped with a boxing ring, speed bags and heavy bags. Gym-goers practice “non-contact boxing” using the bags for impact. Individual classes are $15, but monthly rates are available. Caregivers are also encouraged to participate. Educational workshops are underwritten by pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies and are free to members, caregivers, families and the community. Strict COVID precautions are enforced. Parkinson’s classes are available on-site and virtually, including Boxing/Aerobic Conditioning/Circuit Training, Yoga and Meditation, Physical Optimization, and Speech Therapy.

Karlin, who was born in Brooklyn, spends much of his time traveling with his wife Jodi, collecting antique glass, and trying to live “as anyone would expect from normal retirement.”

For more information on the Strauss Center visit www.boxingforparkinsons.org or call (404) 747-3032.

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