On the eve of the 20th anniversary of Celebrity Fight Night, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center is unveiling an extensive expansion that doctors say will help thousands more patients receive care.
The Center is the primary beneficiary of Celebrity Fight Night, an annual fundraising gala that will be held this year in Phoenix on April 12. Celebrity Fight Night attracts generous entertainers, celebrities and professional athletes from around the nation, including Muhammad and Lonnie Ali. The event has raised more than $23 million for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center since it was established at Barrow Neurological Institute in 1997. Barrow is part of Dignity Health’s St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.
“Our overriding goal has always been to provide patients and their families with the same help we have received so they can live full and productive lives,” said Lonnie, while visiting the Center recently. “This major expansion gives patients comprehensive access to renowned medical care, education, recreational therapies and support programs. The expanded Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center demonstrates that we all are continuing the fight.”
After doubling in size with a move to its current location in the Muhammad and Lonnie Ali Pavilion in 2009, the Center has now more than doubled in size again with the $5 million expansion.
At the heart of the expansion is a large gym and activities area where patients are offered support programs and daily exercise classes in everything from tai chi, to yoga, to dance. The state-of-the-art Center encompasses 26,450 square-feet and also includes 30 exam rooms, Botulinum toxin treatment rooms, a tilt room to evaluate and treat patients with orthostatic hypotension, a balance and gait lab, clinical research areas and a rehabilitation gym.
“Muhammad is ‘the Greatest,’ and this tremendous Center truly reflects his vision,” says Abraham Lieberman, MD, director of the Center, and one of Ali’s neurologists. “Celebrity Fight Night’s ongoing support makes life-changing differences for the patients we treat and their families.”
The Center has become widely recognized recently for its expertise in treating Parkinson’s disease with deep brain stimulation. The treatment involves surgically placing electrodes in a patient’s brain and connecting them to a “brain pace-maker”. The Center, working with Barrow surgeons, performs more deep brain stimulation surgeries than anywhere in the world. A National Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, the Center also provides the largest support network in the country for patients with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders.
Ali, who is a three-time Heavy Weight Boxing Champion and one of the most famous athletes in history, was diagnosed with the disease in 1984. Currently, up to 1.5 million Americans have Parkinson’s disease and it is estimated that there will be a 30 percent increase of Parkinson’s over the next decade. As of yet, there is no cure.