Padraig on way home after horror cycling crash left him fighting for life
An Irish teenager who was left with life-threatening injuries after a cycling accident in the US is "getting so much better" as he is preparing to finally return home.
Two years on from the horrific incident, Padraig Schaler is hoping to return to Ireland, with his father saying his condition is improving.
"He is getting so much better because of the support and therapy he has been given," Reinhard Schaler said.
"It has helped him to regain a lot of consciousness, not just through body movements. He can reach for his food, he understands what we are saying and he can also answer 'yes' or 'no' with his tongue," Mr Schaler added.
"He is completely dependent on us, he can't be on his own or do all the things he could do, certainly not after the accident, but now he is constantly improving because he is getting all the right help."
Dubliner Padraig was struck by a van while out cycling in the town of Brewster, Massachusetts in June 2013.
He was living in Cape Cod for the summer with friends on a J1 visa when the accident happened.
The 23-year-old lapsed into a coma due the severity of his injuries and was transferred to Beaumont Hospital where he spent three and a half months in a high-dependency ward.
His family then decided to move him to an intensive neuro-lab in Germany, as they feared the year-long waiting list for the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NHR) would result in lost time for Padraig.
Mr Schaler is also campaigning for better services for people suffering with severe brain injuries in Ireland.
"We felt when Padraig's accident happened, this was the first time that we really needed help from the State and it just wasn't there. It was really, really hard to take. Padraig emigrated basically. He had to leave, not because he couldn't get a job, but because of the health system," he said.
Plans to bring Padraig home to Ireland will commence on June 2, when work will begin on a wheelchair-adapted extension to the family's Dublin home.
The ground floor of the house will also be fitted with a bedroom and a bathroom beside the kitchen, so Padraig can easily access them.
"We want to bring him back because we have been away for such a long time. We know he's getting better and he's more aware of everything around him, and we know it's important that he's close to the people he knows," his father said.
In January, Padraig moved into an apartment in which he has 24-hour care, with the hope that he can return home by September.
"We hope that in the summer months we'll finish the extension and bring Padraig home in the autumn if all goes to plan, hopefully in September.
"We are aware that there are a lot of variables that we can't control.
"He's stable physically, but there's still a possibility that something could happen for him that he'd require treatment," Mr Schaler added.