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Two men begin 10,000 mile car journey to raise funds for Pádraig Schaler's brain injury treatment

Pádraig was left needing intensive care after he was knocked off his bike in 2013.

Pádraig Schaler
Pádraig Schaler
Image: GoFundMe

AN IRISH TEAM has started a long drive to Russia in the hope of raising funds to assist with the neuro-rehabilitation of a Dublin man with an acquired brain injury (ABI).

Eugene O’Carroll and Pete Sinkson are part of a two-man team set to drive thousands of miles as part of the famous intercontinental Mongol Rally, to raise money for Pádraig Schaler, whose story has been covered extensively on TheJournal.ie.

Pádraig suffered a serious brain injury after he was knocked off his bike while on a J1 trip in Cape Cod in 2013.

He fell into a coma after the incident, and was brought by his family to Germany for treatment, but has since returned to Ireland, where his condition is continuing to improve.

However, his family have paid very significant expenses since the accident happened, including hundreds of euro a week on weekly therapy sessions and thousands more on intensive therapy abroad every few months.

His father Reinhard told TheJournal.ie that the 10,000-mile drive to raise funds for Pádraig was welcome for more than just financial reasons.

“The whole thing is bringing a bit of lightness into what is an unfortunate situation,” he said.

“They’ve already started in Prague in small car with a small engine, and they have until September to get to Ulan Ude in Russia.

“It’s completely bonkers, but they say that they’re doing it to make life more entertaining.”

Specialist help needed

The total cost of Pádraig’s rehabilitation for the remainder of his life has been estimated to be millions of euro, and his family have faced many obstacles in their quest to get proper treatment and care for him.

He has a homecare package covered by the HSE, but other forms of clinical therapy, which help him to remain physically and mentally stimulated, aren’t covered by this.

Reinhard explains that despite what some might think, Pádraig is more active than he appears.

“He listens to interesting things, and goes to sleep when there are boring things on,” he says.

“He has good days and bad days, and the circumstances are very different to ours, but there are loads of things that he enjoys a lot.”

Reinhard also outlines the importance of the money that will hopefully be raised for his son during the Mongol Rally, which will help his family with the financial burden of caring for Pádraig.

“We would never be able to do it without the money,” he says.

“Pádraig needs ongoing therapy for the rest of his life. If he doesn’t get it, he’s going to die: it’s that simple. And we’ve had terrible problems finding people to help us.

“Half a year ago, Pádraig started moving – which was brilliant – but that posed massive challenges because his brain wasn’t able to keep up with controlling his body.

“In situations like that, you need to have guidance, which is incredibly hard to get because you need a very specific type of help.”

An Saol centre

Arising from the challenges they’ve faced, Pádraig’s family are setting up a new facility to help other people to get the best care they can in situations like theirs.

They have developed An Saol, a centre for people with serious acquired brain injury, which aims to provide therapy services for patients and some respite for their family members.

“Most of the people in situations like him would be in a nursing home, which isn’t the right place for a young person to be,” Reinhard says.

“You spend an awful lot of time in bed without exercise or proper mental stimulation.

“So we got the HSE to fund a pilot project for three years, and we’re now at a stage where we have a building and the correct certificates.”

An Saol, which is on track to open in September, is working with two organisations in Germany and the UK who are helping those involved with training and staffing.

The project could create a pool of experts to help people who have acquired brain injuries, and to offer services to those who aren’t getting them.

Those responsible are even looking to acquire robotic walking equipment and hire therapists to assist those with injuries like Pádraig.

But the other aim, Reinhart explains, is to show the HSE why there is such a requirement for a permanent space like An Saol.

“It’s a different type of care you’re providing people,” he says.

“We feel that Pádraig is so vulnerable, so we know the importance of having a place where people can leave their family members or friends and take some time out to know that they are in good hands.”

Donations to the Mongol Rally 2019 for Pádraig can be made here. Reinhart Schaler blogs about his son’s progress at Hospi-Tales.com

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