A road to recovery: A 22-year-old’s journey after a brain injury

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Skylar McCaulley was ready for his senior year of college; he had passed his MCAT’s and was ready to continue on with his goal of becoming a doctor. But that path took an unexpected detour.

“Thankfully I’m alive so I told my mom I have no reason to experience another negative emotion,” Skylar McCaulley said.

On August 13, 2021, Skylar McCaulley began getting a series of intense migraines. That led to a trip to the Sanford ER.

“They did a cat scan and they found out I had a brain bleed,” Skylar McCaulley said.

And a much more serious problem.

“Arteriovenous malformation (AMV), by those capillaries being all twisted, basically the blood just couldn’t fall through it normal and so ruptured and then blood dumped into my brain,” Skylar said.

McCaulley was put in the ICU where his condition took a turn.

“He lost consciousness and had to have several surgeries which were very invasive,” Andy McCaulley, father, said.

McCaulley spent 51 days in the ICU before moving onto Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“So when he first got here he wasn’t eating or drinking anything by mouth at all,” Dr. Matthew Driewer, Medical Director at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals said.

McCaulley had to learn how to use his body again.

“He would nod barely or shake his head barely to try and answer questions,” Dr. Matthew Driewer said.

At Madonna, McCaulley did a mired of physical, occupational and speech therapy.

“I also got to partake in pool therapy which was really fun, I really liked working in the pool,” Skylar said.

While McCaulley cannot yet walk on his own, his work with the pool and the Lokomat walking machine brings him closer to that goal of taking steps on his own.

“Never thought I would be so happy to walk,” Skylar said.

Now back at home, he plans on taking a year off to recover before heading back to college to graduate from the University of Sioux Falls and head on his next venture.

“I’m hoping early next school year I’ll be doing interviews, that would be best case scenario, and then I’ll be attending medical school in fall of 2023,” Skylar said.

While at Madonna’s, McCaulley received the Madonna Spirit Award. The award has only been given out three times in the last few years and it is awarded to individuals who show great determination in their rehabilitation.

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