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The Power to Overcome

Submitted by admin on 2011-05-25

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Image from Paul's Blog

Paul Pritchard a British adventurer and writer living in Australia took part in a short film to tell the story of his inspirational journey of overcoming a climbing injury that left him with hemiplegia.

Why do you like climbing? I started climbing when I was 16 for the freedom of movement and the freedom of lifestyle. I loved it because the only person you compete against is yourself and I was never any good at team sports!

When did you acquire hemiplegia? In 1998 a boulder fell on my head whilst rock climbing in Tasmania which left me with hemiplegia.

What is hemiplegia? Hemiplegia is a condition affecting one side of the body which is caused by damage to part of the brain either through birth or an injury like I had.

How has living with hemiplegia changed your life? This may seem like a strange thing to say but my accident was the best thing that ever happened to me. Living with hemiplegia has made me a much stronger person. I still just look upon my disability as the biggest mountaineering expedition I've ever been on. Mountaineering takes a lot of patience and determination just like a head injury!

How has HemiHelp influenced you? HemiHelp is the only UK charity to support people like me with hemiplegia and they do a lot of good through a great support network. I always look forward to visiting them when Iím in the UK.

How long was it before you felt comfortable to go climbing after acquiring hemiplegia? I don't feel comfortable climbing now. It is always a struggle and always a challenge. I think it was 3 years before I did my first climb but 10 years before I led a climb where you go first and put up the ropes which is much more dangerous.

Whatís your greatest achievement to date? Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania where we made an all disabled ascent. There was a storm and all the able bodied folk went down so we had the summit all to ourselves!

What would your advice be for people recently diagnosed with hemiplegia? In the words of Dori in Finding Nemo "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming"! And remember with hemiplegia there is always a chance of improvement - the brain is very plastic as long as you work at it.

What would you like for the future? Personally, I would like to keep on being adventurous and writing. Just to live life to the full every day. I'm riding my tricycle across the Himalayas from Lhasa in Tibet to Kathmandu in Nepal in September which will be exciting and I always want to spend as much time with my kids as possible before they grow up.

To learn more about Paul take a look at his blog

This video is part of a 15 minute film produced by Bamboo Chicken Productions Ltd that can be downloaded from


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