Almost six years after a traffic accident left her comatose, a 23-year-old woman has regained limited mobility and enjoys surfing the Internet, thanks to her mother’s determined refusal to give up on her daughter.
“I burst into tears the moment I saw her nodding her head. Thank God for bringing me back my little girl,” the mother of Su Hsiang-ting (蘇湘婷) said of the two-year battle to help her daughter regain consciousness.
Su was on her way to her high-school graduation banquet when she was hit by a taxi in June 2008.
She suffered severe head trauma in the accident, which led to a total of 18 brain operations and changed her from a healthy, outgoing teenager to an intubated, comatose patient.
After Su’s condition stabilized, her mother, a kindergarten teacher, placed her in the New Life Nursing Home in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Sansia District (三峽) because she could not take care of her full-time. However, she visited her daughter every day after work.
Clinging to the hope that her daughter would wake up one day, Su’s mother often read stories and newspapers to her daughter. She invited Su’s classmates over to sing and dance in clown costumes, hoping that their performances could trigger her daughter’s memories.
“When Su was admitted into the nursing home, she was unconscious and her eyes were empty,” said Huang Wen-hsien (黃文賢), the home’s director.
At the mother’s insistence, the nursing home designed a series of activities to stimulate Su’s body, mind and senses, Huang said.
Huang said Su first showed signs of recovery in early 2010, when she gradually started to make subtle facial expressions, touch her fingernails and knock on the side of her bed with her left hand.
New Life Nursing Home superintendent Lin Pi-yu (林碧玉) said that after Su showed signs of language comprehension, the staff tried acupoint therapy, music and animal-assisted therapies.
“We displayed photographs of Su in a digital picture frame against a backdrop of music and tried to improve her hands’ gripping capability. Sometimes, we wetted her lips with lemon juice in an effort to stimulate her sense of taste and swallowing responses,” Lin said.
Thanks to the relentless efforts of Su’s mother and the nursing home staff, Su woke up in the middle of 2010. In August of that year, her tracheostomy and nasogastric tubes were removed.
Su has now regained partial use of her left hand, and her ability to speak, eat and use a computer, but she relies on an electric wheelchair to get around.
“My biggest dream is to be able to walk again, so that I can return to my old life,” Su said.