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‘I felt like I could do anything’

Parker man reaches new heights with adaptive climbing wall


Parker resident Nate Redman has a rare genetic condition, spinocerebellar ataxia 7, that’s gradually taking away his brain’s ability to communicate with his body. A wrestler and football player in high school, the 25-year-old now uses a wheelchair and relies on his family, therapists and friends to get from point A to point B, at least when he’s on the ground.

But he can go upward as well as just about anyone.

“I’d never done a therapy like that,” Redman said, referring to an indoor adaptive climbing wall he’s been using at the Parker Fieldhouse, 18700 E. Plaza Drive in Parker. “It helps my coordination and it’s fun.”

A special harness allows a staff member to keep him from falling, the same it would with any climber. And with a little help transferring from his wheelchair, Redman can grab the handholds, place his feet on footholds and pull himself up the 25-foot structure. It’s the only wall like it in the area, according to Fieldhouse staff.

Redman began using the wall in April, but he’s already made it to the top twice.

“I felt like I could do anything,” he said of his first summit. “I was actually turning around and waving.”

Spinocerebellar ataxia is degenerative, and patients with Redman’s condition are ultimately bedridden. Redman’s occupational therapist, Jeff Galloway, said climbing is one way to keep Redman active and exercising as long as possible, adding that the wall has unique benefits for Redman’s coordination and confidence.

“It’s a novel experience,” Galloway said. “Reaching and seeking the handles helps with his coordination and sensory integration…These are things we all apply every day to build our character.”

Redman’s closest companion, Aaron Peterson, said he’s noticed improvement in his friend’s dexterity and strength, but added that the positive effects of using the wall go beyond Redman himself.

“Every time we tell someone about it,” he said, “it inspires them to try it.”


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