May 7, 2019 @ 12:05 PM

BwP Project data is a combination of Patient-Reported Outcome information, PRO, and Coach Administered Physical Tests, MPTs, administered by participating Project coaches.  This data, available for the first time ever in this size sampling group over a continuous period of time, will provide a robust research platform to measure the value of boxing as Parkinson’s exercise therapy over the long term.

There are two main approaches to a research problem - quantitative and qualitative methods.  Qualitative methods are chosen when the goal of the research problem is to examine, understand and describe a phenomenon.  These methods are a common choice in social science research problems and are often used to study ideas, beliefs, human behaviors and other research questions that do not involve studying the relationship between variables.

The Bwp Project uses the case study model to develop a reliable knowledge base on how boxing as exercise therapy impacts boxers individually, collectively or in groups such as by age, gender, time since diagnosis, Parkinson’s levels/stages, etc. 

Researchers cannot study every member of a population or group.  Rather, they collect data from a subset of that population or group which is called a sample.  The data collected and observations made are used to make inferences about the entire population or group with the idea that the sample will be representative of the larger population.

The entire base of Rock Steady Boxers, ~36,000, is less than 1% of the population of people with Parkinson’s.  In addition, they self-selected themselves to participate in boxing as exercise therapy.  We may discover that our sample group is strong on people in Levels 1 and 2, smaller in Level 3 and even smaller in Level 4.  Our sample may favor certain age groups.  Our sample may turn out to be those who live in urban markets.  Since we are using an already developed group, this is called a Nonprobability Sampling or a Convenience Sampling.

The most common types of variables, especially when study cause and effect relationships, are the independent and dependent variables.  The independent variable is the one that can be controlled or manipulated.  The dependent variable is the one that is measured by the experimenter. 

In the BwP case, independent variables include the Rock Steady Boxing methodology, coach training and guidance, the Plan of the Week, length of the workouts and assessment intervals.  Dependent variables include a boxer’s work effort/intensity, frequency of workouts, Parkinson’s Level, etc.

Having thousands of Project participants should provide a meaningful sample for any group defined whether such as time since diagnosis, age, gender, PD Level, frequency of workouts, boxer intensity, etc.  In effect, by having thousands of boxers and with the ability to filter the total population by variables, we create  unlimited sample bases, each with enough participants that the resulting questions and results provide relevant answers.

The BwP patient-reported data strategy uses the nationally recognized and accepted Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire, PDQ-39.  This survey provides patient responses to 39 quality of life scenarios in 8 categories.  It asks patients questions through the lens “Due to having Parkinson’s disease, how often during the last month have you…”.  Effectively, they may not be able separate how their experience is caused by Parkinson’s, their age or some other health condition.  As an example, they might score themselves as “Occasional” on a survey question test due to not exercising for the last 10 years or because they are 88 years old.  After 6 months of boxing, they might score “Sometimes” or even “Never” due to better fitness and strength or growing confidence rediscovering they can do more than they thought they could. 

If as a boxer over time they improve their perceptions, then boxing is making a difference.  What if the data shows that through better fitness, strength and confidence, through social interactions and new friendships, with a new “can do” attitude, boxers show a fresh and improved quality of life.  And what if through the improved mobility, stability, flexibility and brain games boxers show their quality life is better.  In a sizable sampling, their perceptions of their quality of life improvements are relevant, reliable and significant.

Measured (objective) data is provided through several tested and widely accepted tests:  the Fullerton Advance Balance tests along with Timed Up And Go and Sit-To-Stand.  Together, these 12 tests provide a picture of how age, general health and Parkinson’s are affecting the movement and balance of our boxers and how boxing as exercise therapy can impact their condition.

The BwP app provides standardization to the administration of the tests and includes test instructions and online help.

One question not answered in this study is the value of boxing as exercise therapy for Parkinson’s vs. other exercise programs.  If a boxing participant also bikes, swims, does Tai Chi and/or Yoga, how would that affect the outcomes.  If a participant were biking with the same frequency and intensity of their boxing, would their results be the same?

Italicized paragraphs are from the Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching.