Parkinson’s no barrier for Arnold

IN 2007, Moe’s Arnold Siinmaa noticed things were “not quite right”.

He was losing balance and his movement was slowing, but it wasn’t until three years later he had a diagnosis – Parkinson’s Disease.

A neurological condition that affects movement, Parkinson’s occurs when the production of a brain chemical called dopamine declines.

It is not fatal but there is no cure.

Now 92 years old and on a program of daily medication and exercise, Arnold counts himself as one of the lucky ones.

Previously unable to dress and dry himself after a shower, Arnold is now thriving on independence. He also recently had his driver’s licence renewed.

“For some reason there’s a thinking that if you have Parkinson’s you shouldn’t drive, but that’s not right,” he said.

Arnold credits 40 minutes of weight and resistance exercise each day for the vast improvement in his condition, which has helped him live a relatively normal life.

This normality is something he wishes upon every sufferer and is why he’s participating in this year’s A Walk in the Park.

As part of the Parkinson’s Victoria fundraiser, thousands of people living with the disease and their families will participate in a leisurely four kilometre walk, or two kilometre shortcut, from Federation Square along the Yarra River on Sunday.

Arnold’s participating in the latter walk for the second year in a row as he commonly experiences stiffness in the buttocks and tightness in his leg muscles.

“But I’d say I could do the four if I wanted,” he said.

He’s passionate about the event as he believes fundraising is key to better understanding and eventually finding a cure for the disease.

“Research is very important. Even in the years since I’ve been diagnosed there have been a couple of important things happen (in Parkinson’s research),” Arnold said.

“Just three years ago there was an emphasis that weights and resistance exercises were as important as medication and then they started to recommend you take the medication half an hour before food and milk products because of a reaction from the enzymes.

“That’s all because of research. That’s where the money goes.”