Health Check: Pedaling for Parkinson's

There’s a promising new therapy that can significantly reduce symptoms in Parkinson's patients. (WJAR)

There’s a promising new therapy that can significantly reduce symptoms in Parkinson's patients.

At the Bayside YMCA in Barrington, where it’s being offered, there’s an instructor who's proving to be quite the inspiration.

The program is called Pedaling for Parkinson's. One of the instructor’s is Michael Obel-Omia, of Barrington.

For years, he was a spin instructor at the Y.

"Three times a week, playing my playlist. It was great," recalled Obel-Omia.

But then on May 21, 2016, he had a major stroke.

"He lost the ability to speak at all at the time, originally," said his wife, Carolyn.

"And I was in the hospital 37 days," said Obel-Omia.

But he was determined.

"He pretty quickly said, 'I want to ride my bike,'" said Carolyn. "And so, he rode and he fell and he got up and he just kept doing it."

It's that never say no thinking that helped him, as well as others.

"With everything, with his speech, with his physical ability, he just keeps finding the next thing that he can do to improve," said Carolyn.

Sarah Srock, who is the senior wellness director at the Bayside Y, said he was an inspiration prior to his stroke.

“He filled the classes and members loved him," Srock said.

So, Srock approached Obell-Omia post-stroke about teaching a new class.

"She asked me last August if I would do Parkinson's,” said Obel-Omia. “I said, 'Sure.'"

Obel-Omia spent six months gearing up for a spin class specifically tailored to those with Parkinson's disease. The research out of the Cleveland Clinic has been impressive.

"It showed that by doing this program three times a week, it reduces their symptoms by 35 percent, which is pretty significant," said Srock. "Studies show that through forced exertion, meaning added resistance to your bike, is what helps build the strength and what helps reduce those symptoms that come with Parkinson's Disease."

One of his students, Michael Emmenecker, who has had Parkinson's for more than 20 years, enjoys Obel-Omia's classes.

"He is fantastic,” said Emmenecker. “He drives you hard."

The class is open to all Bayside YMCA members who have Parkinson’s Disease.

For more on the research, click here.

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