At a friend’s birthday party in summer 2008, David McCauley dove into a pool, hit his head on the bottom and broke his neck.
McCauley was in an intensive care unit for two-and-a-half weeks and spent four months in rehabilitation. At 39, he remains impaired in all four limbs, has limited mobility of his arms and cannot move his hands.
During rehab, McCauley was introduced to art therapy.
“So much emphasis is placed on physical rehabilitation, which is often a grueling regiment,” McCauley said. “You are literally training like an Olympic athlete. Art therapy provides an escape from that routine.”
McCauley said art therapy has given him a balance between the physical and mental recovery, and led him to start an organization that helped others going through similar situations.
In 2010, he established a nonprofit organization in New Jersey called Rise Up To Cure Paralysis to improve the quality of life of people living with paralysis. Two years later, he headquartered the organization’s first flagship program in Miami Beach, Rise Up Gallery, which focuses on pop-up exhibits for disabled artists.
The program offers art therapy workshops at Jackson Memorial Hospital for newly injured patients suffering from ailments including spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and multiple sclerosis.