Charlie Norwood VA treating patients through rock wall therapy


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Step by step, veterans climb the 50-foot rock wall at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.

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“It’s an incredible feeling,” Hector Avila, a Marine Corps veteran, says.

Every step is a step toward recovery for injured veterans.

“As you do it, you’ll find that you get stronger and better at it.”

“It puts a lot of things into perspective,” Fernando Cabello, an army veteran, adds.

Avila and Cabello are battling spinal cord injuries. Cabello was injured in a car crash. Avila had a surgery go wrong. Neither man knew if he would be able to use his legs again.

“Mentally, an injury like this can set you back and put you in dark places,” Avila says. “But, [it helps] knowing when I get up on that wall, I can do something more than I did last time.”

Avila and Cabello were referred to the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center for adaptive rehabilitation. They began using the rock wall three weeks ago. In this short time, they went from not being able to move their legs to climbing several feet of the wall.

“There’s nothing I feel that I can not do,” Avila says. “It’s a good feeling. it’s knowing that this injury can not stop me.

The veterans are not stopping. They are pushing themselves to work even harder.

“I may not get all the way to 50 feet, but I’m making my way up there,” Avila says.

“When I hit that goal, the first thing that goes through my mind is, ‘You hit it last time, why didn’t you hit it last time?’ The next thing that comes up is, ‘You have to go higher because you are clearly capable of doing it,'” Cabello explains.

The road to recovery is not easy for Avila and Cabello. But, with the help of the VA, they are confident they will continue to accomplish their goals.

“We’re always going to be trying to get better,” Avila says.

“I’m really excited about getting back out there and being able to surpass where I’m at now,” Cabello adds.

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