Balancing help on the farm

By Jeanette Severs

STUART ARMS raises the calves, outside of his employment advising on animal nutrition for CopRice and organising their three school-aged sons.

Mr Arms has hereditary spastic paraperisis (HSP), a progressive disease affecting his legs, with flow-on effects to his back and core.

A typically active sporting teenager, he noticed the onset of symptoms as an 18-year-old.

“I use a walking stick for balance and assisting movement and its use takes a pounding on my elbow, too,” Mr Arms said.

His main issues around the farm are balance and awareness of his environment, including avoiding the cows. From August, the calving work becomes more intensive.

“I can ride the motorbike and assist with bringing the cows in,” he said.

“I need to be aware the cows are 450 to 500 kg each and of where they are. I’m slow and we’ve got to be conscious of that. For me, a normal work hazard has doubled risk.

“If the cows or calves knock me and I fall over, or I lose my balance in the muddy yard and fall over, I need assistance rising again.”

Mr Arms carries milk buckets to the calves — again, being careful about his environment and moving with awareness, balancing the bucket in one hand with how he places the walking stick on the ground.