On her way to a festival one evening in 2018, Emily was knocked down by a hit and run driver. Emily suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of the accident and was taken to hospital after being assessed by London Air Ambulance which is part of the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS).
While in the rehabilitation unit of Amersham Hospital ILS Professional Mentor, Tim Gilbert, visited Emily to make an initial assessment of her needs. At this stage Emily was in a wheelchair as she was unable to walk and one of her first goals was to be able to walk her dogs. Emily has a goat, donkeys, chickens and cats as well as her dogs at home and cites her love of animals as a big part of her rehabilitation journey. On returning home she recalls how her Dad would push her along in her wheelchair when they first took the dogs out. But through her rehabilitation Emily is now able to walk at least 5 miles which, as she says, is handy as it’s far enough to get to the local pub and back!
Emily has also reignited her love of art through the rehabilitation art therapy sessions she has been undertaking and has been channelling this passion into making and selling cards to raise money for the NHS and the HEMS who Emily credits with helping to save her life.
In early 2019, Catherine was assigned as Emily’s Case Manager and has been continuing to support Emily in defining her goals. This includes returning part-time to the job role she had before her accident. Emily recalls: “It was really nice to meet Catherine and meet someone who actually could understand me. [Because] she’s got a physiotherapy background it was very helpful in that respect.”
And it isn’t just Emily who appreciates the support that Catherine has been able to provide.
Emily’s Mum, Ann said “I was very relieved when Catherine came on board and it was a great help because she was able to come with us to view all the different rehab centres.”
With her rehabilitation going so well, Emily has also been exploring new career opportunities for the future. Having worked for a Superfoods company prior to the accident, Emily was aware of the connection between the gut and the brain and wants to pursue her interest in nutrition further. She is considering undertaking a university degree to advance this interest with a view to becoming a qualified nutritionist. Her love of baking has been a constant throughout and she is still keen, despite having lost her sense of smell and taste as a result of the accident.
Another result of the brain injury is a condition known as pseudobulbar affect (PBA), which is a condition whereby sufferers exhibit episodes of sudden uncontrollable and inappropriate laughing or crying. In Emily’s case she will laugh or giggle even when she hears something sad. Emily describes it as “emotional incontinence” but is learning to deal with it and tells people she meets that she has it when she meets them so that they understand. Despite the potential for some awkward situations, her mum, Ann, explains that the upside is that something the family finds funny will be absolutely hilarious to Emily which in turn brings more laughter into the house.
Emily’s strength is improving all the time and as she continues to gain control of her body, she is now re-learning how to drive. While her choice of vehicle would is not a typical learner car, the large pickup truck is the one she is most familiar with as she used to drive it to and from the local railway station before the accident. She admits to the occasional “incident” such as almost bumping the family barn recently! However, she continues to make great progress and hopes to be able to drive on the road again soon following an obligatory driving assessment.
“As with anything in recovery, the more you do it, the better you get at it” - Emily
Emily’s case manager has been amazed by her progress, stating “I remember coming to visit Emily just as I was about to take over [her] case from Tim, and physically [she] was in such a different position to what [she] is now… [She’s] achieved so much”.
Catherine continues to support Emily with her future goals which include moving out of the family home and living independently which is something Emily is hoping to do in the new year. With such a positive outlook on life and family, friends and her case manager beside her, we look forward to following Emily’s future achievements.