Australian Paraplegic Man Reaches Mt. Everest Base Camp

What do you do after you break your spine and are confined to a wheelchair?

Scale Mt Everest, if your name is Scott Doolan.

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Doolan, 29, is an Australian who had his spine crushed in a motorcycle accident at age 17, which left him paralyzed from the waist down.  He said that friends encouraged him to get back to the gym after the accident, and that was what helped him come to terms with his situation. 

Later, he met Matt Laycock, who founded the Apexgen clothing line. Their tagline is, 'Rise above it'. Laycock presented the Everest idea to Doolan, who initially said no. But the opportunity to challenge himself and inspire others proved to be too hard to resist.  He decided to be the first paraplegic to scale Mt. Everest with minimal help.

Raising awareness for mental health

His aim was to inspire others and raise awareness for mental health. It’s something which affects people with physical challenges and those without. For eight months beforehand, he engaged in rigorous cardiovascular and strength training, as well as practicing in the Blue Mountains of Australia using a special oxygen-restriction mask to simulate conditions in the Himalayan mountains. His training proved to be enough.

 Scott Doolan at Everest Base Camp in Nepal.Source:AFP

Scott Doolan at Everest Base Camp in Nepal.Source:AFP

Doolan went through six pairs of heavy-duty mechanic’s gloves during the climb, doing something he calls, ‘ wheelbarrowing’, similar to the kids' race game of the same name in which one partner walks on his hands while the other carries the person's legs. When they came to areas where he couldn’t push himself in his custom-made wheelchair and were too treacherous to wheelbarrow, one of the Sherpa’s would carry him, but made the journey with minimal assistance.

Doolan called the journey 'humbling'

The 65 km journey normally takes nine to ten days.  Doolan expected to take double that time, but it only took him ten days. His custom wheelchair has mountain bike wheels, one of which broke on the journey. He said he was humbled to be the first, and that it was harder than he thought, but 'incredible.'

Apexgen

Apexgen, who helped support Doolan and promote private sponsorship for him, points out on their website that mental/neurological health problems currently affect a quarter of the population.  Half of alll victims won’t seek treatment because of the stigma associated with it. By 2030, it is expected that mental illness will be the leading illness worldwide. They are currently looking for those who wish to contribute to the funding of a documentary on Scott’s journey, and recruiting ‘Ambassadors’, those individuals who are willing to help them ‘spread the love.’

As for Doolan, he is looking forward to swimming in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. 


If you are looking for occupational or physical therapy, vestibular rehab, wheelchair training, learning to walk, unweighting, or other services in the Phoenix area, please call Touchstone Rehabilitation at 602-277-1073