Brain injury Padraig 'is improving'
THE parents of a J1 student whose family relocated to Germany for medical treatment said he is making progress, but at a very slow pace.
Trinity graduate Padraig Schaler (24) was cycling to work in Cape Cod where he was living when he was hit by a van travelling at speed.
The lack of appropriate care in Ireland forced his parents to take him to Germany for treatment.
His father, Reinhard, said they never wanted to split their family up, but were left with no choice.
"We never wanted to make it difficult for Padraig's sisters and friends to visit him," he told the Herald.
Mr Schaler said it was difficult to deal with his son's traumatic brain injury, but he said that the "incredible" support from Dublin eases the burden.
He and his wife, Patricia, commute between their Dublin home and Hamburg where Padraig is undergoing intensive rehabilitation for his injuries.
Mr Schaler said his son's friends from Dublin are regular visitors.
"Hardly a week goes by that Padraig doesn't have a visitor," he said.
"In a situation like ours it would be easy for people to forget us, but it has been the complete opposite."
In March, Mr Schaler wrote an open letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny in which he detailed his family's heartbreak and said they have been "torn apart".
"The lack of treatment forced Padraig out of the country he loves," he wrote.
Mr Schaler said they had moved Padraig swiftly out of desperation.
"We realised that if he stayed in Beaumont he would get sicker or be further injured and we panicked," he said.
"Everyone knows about the problems in the health sector, but if you have to struggle and fight for everything that you need from toothbrushes to a head support for a wheelchair it just drains you."
Padraig is making progress, but very slowly, his father said. He is learning again how to use his voice using a speech valve for a few hours a day.
The family hopes to open a care facility for people with acute acquired brain injuries in Dublin so that other families can avoid their struggle to find proper care.
"The plan is to open the doors in January 2016," said Mr Schaler.
"We're calling it An tSaol after an Irish language blog that Padraig set up when he was 15.
"We want to pick up where our son left off."