Masks are required at all times for visitors to Madonna facilities. Click for more COVID-19 information Read More
Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Sky’s the limit for Skylar after a stay at Madonna

December 29, 2021

With dreams of becoming a doctor, Skylar McCaulley had plans to go to medical school. The 22-year-old from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, passed the MCAT in August 2020 and worked as a cardiac technician at Sanford USD Medical Center. But then severe migraines led to a CT scan that revealed Skylar had suffered a ruptured AVM or arteriovenous malformation that led to a stroke. Suddenly, Skylar became a patient at the hospital where he worked.

After 51 days in the ICU, Skylar came to Madonna’s brain injury program unable to move or eat.

“When Skylar came to us, he had significant left-side weakness and was on a feeding tube,” Dr. Matt Driewer, hospitalist and medical director at Madonna, said. “When he first got here, he wasn’t eating or drinking anything by mouth. He was stable but in pretty rough shape.”

The eager student, who loved to read, had a long chapter ahead of him. With goals of walking again, Madonna’s physical and occupational therapists went to work and Skylar’s progress began to skyrocket.

“I’m pretty resilient,” said Skylar. “I realized I can take a major life event and still go forward without any problems. I’m a lot closer than I expected. I can eat and drink. I can walk with a walker. I never expected this, especially where I was. I’m very thankful. I have no reason to have negative emotion after what I went through.”

Skylar took steps on Madonna’s Lokomat, a robotic treadmill training system that supports body weight so patients can take assisted steps. In staring his goals down, Skylar also made progress in Madonna’s extensive vision rehabilitation program led by trained experts using state-of-the-art technology. That includes the Dynavision, a computerized board to improve peripheral vision, reaction time, and arm coordination.

“Most of the technology that we’ve used in occupational therapy has been during vision rehab,” Jessica Virgil, Madonna’s vision program leader, said. “The Dynavision is really great to work on reaction time and motor skills. We work on it sitting or standing to work on his balance.”

With reading as part of his therapy, Skylar remains strong-willed and is diving back into the books, still determined to be a doctor. He’s hopeful to go to medical school, and although his stay at Madonna has shifted his timeline, it hasn’t shaken his perseverance.

“The level of care that everybody here uses when they deal with patients has helped me realize just how much your job is tied into how much you care for people,” Skylar said. “I’m even more motivated to do medicine now so I can care for people the same way these people cared for me.”

Related Posts