Rehabilitation through Rock Climbing

May 3, 2016
Flora Midgley - Solicitor in the Brain Injury Team

Posted by: Flora Midgley


A fantastic use of compensation to pay for potentially life-changing rehabilitation

I specialise in compensation claims relating to child brain injury and I am particularly interested in climbing as a means of rehabilitation.

At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we are always mindful of new innovative rehabilitation options and, if recommended by experts we will seek to make provision for it in a claim. I anticipate that, where appropriate, climbing will feature more in future rehabilitation programmes of our clients.

Who could benefit

Climbing can be accessible for almost everyone and is not only for adrenaline junkies or those with a love of extreme sports.

There are around 500,000 people in the UK aged 16 to 74 living with long term disabilities as a result of a traumatic brain injury, and each individual and their family face different challenges and have different needs[1].

Climbing

 The benefits of climbing for people with brain injuries

Many climbing centres have specialist instructors who have experience with rehabilitation and working with a lot of different physical and mental disabilities.

Climbing has a positive impact on both physical and mental wellbeing for the following reasons:

  • It helps people to socialise (which is important for people with brain injuries who can feel socially isolated)
  • It helps with people’s physical strength and stamina
  • It gives people a sense of achievement; and
  • It is a physical goal-orientated challenge, which also has a positive impact on the brain itself

Rock climbing promotes:

  • hand-to-eye coordination
  • problem solving
  • awareness of balance
  • physical strength
  • sensory awareness, and
  • communication

This is helpful for people who have brain injuries because many people will experience more than one form of communication problem after a brain injury, depending on the areas of the brain affected and the severity of the injury.[2]

Castle Climbing Centre

Sophie Charles, a climbing instructor from the Castle Climbing Centre in London (www.castle-climbing.co.uk), told me about her first ever client with a brain injury.

He was involved in a major car accident. He was wheelchair bound but could stand and was blind in one eye. Firstly he started attending the centre weekly, and then fortnightly. He experienced the following benefits:

  • Transference of weight – as he became stronger the rope was slowly taken away from him.
  • He was able to climb higher and higher up the wall. Mostly what he enjoyed about climbing was how much fun it was. Therapy and getting fit were a by-product.
  • When he left the climbing centre he was able to climb stairs, which helped him because his bedroom was upstairs.
  • He had better balance, was stronger and more stable.

People with cerebral palsy also attend the Castle Climbing Centre and climbing helps them in the following ways:

  • The stretches involved in climbing differ from those involved in other therapies. People improve their balance and become more physically relaxed.
  • Climbing helps with finger dexterity because it involves tightening buckles and getting dressed into a harness. Very small adjustments such as these can go a long way to advancing people both physically and mentally.

There is a dedicated team at Castle Climbing Centre who enjoy working with people with brain injuries and seeing the positive changes that climbing can bring to them.

Climbing encourages neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganise its neural pathways in response to the environment. It is the flexibility and growth potential of the brain. Every movement of the body provides sensory feedback for the brain to process and adapt.

Repetitive motions help the brain reorganise its neutral pathways. During climbing, key moves are learned and repeated constantly; it is an activity which encourages neuroplasticity.

For people who have suffered a brain injury, long-term physical activity can also encourage neuroplasticity.

The brain’s ability to develop and respond to physical movement in such a way is both fascinating and inspiring.

Dave Bowes – a medal winning member of Great Britain’s climbing team

Dave Bowes suffered multiple brain injuries as a result of a car crash, which left him with a neurological physical disability[3].

The acquired brain injury affects his memory, balance, emotions and sleep.Since acquiring the brain injury he has become British Para-climbing Champion in his category and is ranked fourth in the World 2014.

Climbing2

“It’s taken me a long time to recover to a stage where I’m able to just about cope with life and getting back into climbing has really helped me do that.” [Dave Bowes]

Where can climbing fit into the litigation process?

At Bolt Burdon Kemp our Child Brain Injury team are dedicated to providing a unique and dynamic service, which adapts to meet the individual needs of our clients.

When the Defendants have admitted fault, and interim compensation is available, careful consideration is given to the needs of our clients. We instruct experienced experts to consider activities to benefit the children we represent so that we can ensure that these can be put in place and financed, as part of their ongoing rehabilitation process.

Going forward climbing may be considered beneficial for our clients as part of their rehabilitation process.

I am a Senior Solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp specialising in Child Brain Injury claims. If you or a loved one have suffered an injury as a result of someone else’s negligence or you are concerned about the treatment you have received, contact me free of charge and in confidence on 020 7288 4875 or at floramidgley@boltburdonkemp.co.uk for specialist legal advice. Alternatively, you can complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Child Brain Injury team will contact you.

[1] https://www.headway.org.uk/about-brain-injury/individuals/effects-of-brain-injury/communication-problems/

[2] http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmworpen/1493/1493vw33.htm

[3] http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=6924

Posted by: Flora Midgley

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