Founded in 2014, Maryland Association for Parkinson's Support (MAPS) is a volunteer-driven organization providing free programs and services that encourage healthy lifestyles for all those affected by Parkinsonian disorders. MAPS serves as a high-quality resource for patients and their families, with over 500 people currently served by our programming. We currently facilitate over 35 well-attended exercise classes per week across the state and one caregiver's support group in Baltimore.
Research indicates that regularly engaging in vigorous exercise activities provides a number of treatment benefits. Exercise helps maintain balance, coordination and mobility, all of which reduces the risk for injury from falls; it also improves cognition, mood and daily functioning. The more vigorous the workout, the greater the dividends, especially for those who begin an intense regimen early on in the disease cycle. Some studies show that robust and sustained exercise actually changes the brain.
With these findings in mind, PD-safe (or focused), community-based exercise programs - led by staff trained in providing specialized help when needed - are becoming more prevalent. Our programs are not only offered consistently over a long duration, but also provide unique opportunities for social interaction, mutual support, and increased motivation - all of which enhances effective engagement.
Given the ever-mounting expense of living with Parkinson's, as well as the impact of its symptoms on independent travel, income limitations, community demographics and geographic diversity in states like Maryland often become significant barriers to service provision. An organized effort and adequate funding are both essential for ensuring that cost-free, population-wide, PD-focused community programs are accessible to anyone, living anywhere in the state - such as those offered by MAPS. Our programs are costly to underwrite in local gyms and other appropriate sites, given the need to cover such associated expenses as facility overhead, experienced trainers, and specialized equipment, for multiple classes that must be stratified by ability. Our current total programming cost for our 8 statewide exercise programs, serving approximately 500 (this number does not include caregivers who also benefit from participating in the programs) adults suffering with PD, is $225,700. All MAPS sponsored programs are free of charge to the participants because MAPS believes that having Parkinson's is enough of a burden on patients and their families. MAPS needs to grow its reach and positively impact more older adults living with Parkinson's.
All of our programming at MAPS, including Rock Steady Boxing, the pedaling programs helps to redirect attention away from illness and towards new learning and creative functioning, while preventing and relieving depression and anxiety. Our programs help to increase confidence, supporting a healthy sense of self, while providing hope to the Parkinson's community at large by demonstrating participant's ability rather than disability. MAPS uses measurable guidelines for growth and outcomes in all of our programming, as observed by both our trained staff and self-reported by participants through surveys.
MAPS sponsors 11 Rock Steady Boxing programs statewide and 3 pedaling programs, 1 dance program , 1 general Parkinson exercise program, and a singing program; all our exercise programs hold a minimum of 2 classes per week and are focused on individuals at varying stages of Parkinson's - from the newly diagnosed to those who had been living with it for decades plus.
MAPS PROVIDES PROGRAMS AND SERVICES THAT ENCOURAGE HEALTHY LIFESTYLES FOR ALL THOSE AFFECTED BY PARKINSON'S DISEASE.