Road traffic accident: Sophie

Sophie sustained a brain injury in 2013. Her parents, Deborah and Lee, tell their story since the day of their daughter's accident.

Published: July 2015. Date of brain injury: 2013 (child aged 20 months). Our little girl, Sophie, was 20 months old on the 12th May 2013 when we were on a family camping holiday in Keswick. Tragically she was involved in a major accident when she ran out and became trapped under a car. She was revived by paramedics and myself at the scene and was flown by the Great North Air Ambulance Service to Newcastle RVI. She sustained critical injuries and was in intensive care on a ventilator for 10 days before they started trying to bring her round. She had five broken bones which have now healed beautifully according to her surgeon who wired both of her thigh bones. Unfortunately, due to lack of oxygen Sophie has sustained severe, permanent brain damage. Sophie was transferred to the paediatric neurology ward in the RVI. Sophie had an amazing team of therapists who have begun her neuro rehabilitation and were led by consultant neurologist Dr Rob Forsyth, an expert in his field. Sophie cannot speak, eat or move as the part of the brain that has been damaged controls movement and coordination. It has caused some muscles to spasm involuntarily or tighten so her arms are always pulled up and she does what we call her 'meerkat' pose. She has regular startle seizures in response to sudden or loud noises or sudden sensory input such as a cough or a door clicking. We know she can see even though the messages her brain send back and forth from her eyes are mixed up and confused. It means she has to work very hard to focus on and track things. Her favourite thing to look at and concentrate on is Daddy! She is able to turn her head and look around towards certain toys that she favours. We feel certain that she's in there somewhere and any of you who have met Sophie will know how rambunctious, outgoing and determined she is. We know we have a very, very long road ahead of us to try and find a way for Sophie to come back to us but we know that she's trying as we can see it in her eyes.

The future: aiming high 

It will take years of rehabilitation before we know how Sophie will 'be'. It is the question on everyone's lips and is the one question the doctors and colleagues cannot answer. He told us that brains have a certain level of plasticity in young children and have some ability to reroute and rewire pathways. We just don't know at which point she will stop rerouting and rewiring. Our thoughts are that we have to have realistic expectations and come to terms with the fact that Sophie will never fully recover from this. However, it won't stop up from hoping high! She has already been working hard on blinking on command to try and communicate and can move her hands, just an inch or two, to an appropriate stimulus such as pointing to a book or waving goodbye to her Physio. She now kicks her legs with more strength and consistency during hydrotherapy sessions and her alertness and facial expressions are gradually beginning to reappear. We've even had a few little smiles when she goes over the bumpy grass in her buggy or we give her a lovely big wriggle or bounce.
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