SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A Sioux Falls woman has a word of warning to the thousands of bikers in South Dakota for this week’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally: wear your helmet! Breinna Grace credits a helmet for saving her life following a crash last year, that resulted in a stroke and put her in a medically-induced coma.
Breinna spent time in the ICU followed by months of rehab. Her family is calling her recovery nothing short of a miracle. Now Breinna wants all rally-goers to stay safe and steer clear of the medical ordeal she’s had to endure.
Playing a simple game of dominoes with her parents marks another sign of progress for Breinna Grace.
“I’m very thankful to be where I’m at,” Breinna said.
Playtime can be therapeutic for someone who’s gone through so much.
“Just trying to keep that improvement going,” Breina said.
Breinna was a passenger on a motorcycle driven by her former boyfriend that collided with a car on the east side of Sioux Falls in May of 2022.
“I had just bought a full-face helmet right before my accident, I went head-first into a car, I believe,” Breinna said.
The crash left Breinna with severe brain damage.
“It was a Jello-effect brain damage just from getting thrown. My brain just bounced around,” Breina said.
Breinna still deals with the effects of the stroke she suffered as a result of the crash.
“When I smile, you can tell this side doesn’t quite come up all the way like it used to,” Breinna.
Yet, Breinna still smiles through it all. Including 25 surgeries since the crash, and more procedures in the future.
“Can you imagine having 25 surgeries?” Breinna’s mom Julie Grace said.
Early on, Breinna’s parents didn’t think she’d survive.
“We’re about ready, getting to a point where we just about unplugged, because of the damage and everything we were hearing. And we had one doctor that said keep believing,” Julie Grace said.
So the family kept on believing. And their faith, along with Breinna’s fortitude, resulted in a remarkable recovery.
“I had to relearn like short-term memory, improving that. A lot of that stuff, like cognitive. Things you, honestly, I took for granted before,” Breinna said.
“It’s like when I grow up, I want to be like Bre. She’s driven, she looks at the high side. There’s lows, but she’s always looking at the high side,” Julie Grace said.
Breinna had to be fitted with a breathing tube during her recovery, and scarring around her airway prevented her from talking for ten months.
“And my recovery nurse, I was talking to her the whole time. She was so nice, just listening. I told her I hadn’t talked for ten months and she told, like, one of the other nurses in the recovery room, that nurse came by and she goes like ten months?! It’s like, yeah,” (laughs) Breinna said.
Breinna does her physical therapy from home now and that includes going on long walks throughout the neighborhood to build up her strength and stamina; finding triumph in every step forward.
“So it’s definitely been a process of adapting. Adapting is a huge thing. Just getting used to what you do have,” Breinna said.
Breinna credits wearing her helmet for saving her from suffering any spinal injuries.
“Helmets, they do a lot. I can’t imagine where I’d be if I didn’t have a helmet. I don’t think I’d be here. I really don’t,” Breinna said.
Breinna got her motorcycle license shortly before her crash. Now she never plans to ride again. While she understands the freedom of the open road that lures so many bikers to Sturgis, she hopes they never forget their helmets.
“Don’t just get happy because it’s the Sturgis Rally and everyone’s out there riding. Be smart with your choices,” Breinna said.
Breinna turned 21 in May. She had to put her career goals on hold during her hospitalization and rehab. Once she’s healthy enough, she plans to pursue a career in speech therapy, inspired by the therapists who helped her during her recovery.