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The power to take on Parkinson’s

March 3, 2018 GMT

He’s lifting weights and making fitness goals to help lift himself up in his battle against Parkinson’s disease.

Josh Robinson, 43, of Yuba City, was diagnosed with the progressive disease in 2013 and quickly decided to take a powerful stance – so he took up powerlifting. He now has some more challenges in mind.

“Next month marks five years with Parkinson’s, and I want to do a personal fundraiser by hiking the Lost Coast Trail, solo. Just me, a backpack, a compass and the outdoors” Robinson said. “It’s been proven that nature and being away from everything provides dopamine and helps with depression.”

He said fighting depression amid the ups and downs of Parkinson’s has been a challenge, but the last five years of competing and training people in powerlifting have been transformational.

“I realized I was a stoic and didn’t know it,” he said. “When I started reading about all the stoics, it became all about perception.”

Robinson is still finalizing the fundraiser details of his lengthy hike but wants the funding to go toward Parkinson’s disease research at University of California, San Francisco, where most of his medical work has been done.

“I know they have a lot of money there (UCSF), so it’s more of a symbolic move,” Robinson said. “It was a difficult time in my life, and I had a lot of things I wanted to do, and they helped to make that happen.”

In 2016, Robinson underwent deep brain stimulation, a surgery used to treat several disabling neurological symptoms including tremors, rigidity, stiffness, slowed movement and walking problems.

“In 2017, I had some setbacks as I recovered from the surgery,” he said. “I was fine for the first couple of months but once the medications washed out, the symptoms came back.”

Aside from the solo, off-trail backpacking journey, Robinson will continue powerlifting and said he wants to sign up for some Spartan races, a type of obstacle course event.

“I’m really inspired by Muhammad Ali,” he said. “He gave it all he had in life – both as a boxer and even after when he had Parkinson’s.”

Robinson said coaching athletes and working with others who have Parkinson’s is mutually beneficial.

“I’ve probably had as much of an impact on people who have Parkinson’s as I have on people without Parkinson’s,” Robinson said. “I still love being alive and I’ll keep pushing as hard as I can for as long as I can.”