That’s because of the 9-year-old Canton girl’s recent strides in recovery from a traumatic brain injury that has kept her in an Atlanta hospital for months. The improvements have also led doctors to agree to finally send her home Tuesday.
“She’s like a different child. Every time we go, she just progresses amazingly well,” Emma’s aunt, Sheila Adams, said Friday morning of her niece, who was kicked in the head by a mule New Year’s Eve and is now expected to make a full recovery. “Her little attitude is wonderful. It’s just amazing.”
Adams said Emma will have physical therapy five days a week once she is released from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston Pediatric Hospital, where she has has been recovering since the incident and trying to regain the strength to walk and speak.
Emma was air-lifted to the hospital in critical condition, after two mules got out of a neighbor’s pen and one of them kicked her. She was trying to help her mother put the animals away in her next-door neighbor’s corral until the owner could be found. Authorities said the mules’ owner wasn’t charged.
Since New Year’s Eve, Emma has been trying to relearn to walk, talk and carry on the life she had before the incident as an “outdoorsy,” yet “girly,” girl, her aunt said.
Walking has come more easily than speaking, although she still has to have help. She is also regaining strength in her arms.
Emma hasn’t spoken, other than to say “momma,” “daddy” and “no.” But, Adams says, the child is trying and has been impressing her speech therapists at the hospital.
Exercises have also revealed that Emma’s memory is strong, which the family sees as a blessing, Adams said.
And even though the last few months have been trying, Adams says, there have been plenty of blessings to count.
After the incident, doctors ordered a procedure to temporarily remove part of Emma’s skull to relieve swelling on her brain. The surgery came days before doctors gave the family the welcome news that she would survive. Not long after that, the family was told Emma was expected to make a full recovery.
It’s been a whirlwind for her parents, Lisa and David Johnson, and they are taking nothing for granted, Adams said.
“God’s the one that’s given her the power,” the child’s aunt said, adding the family attributes her progress to their faith. “David said, ‘The harder something is, the more God can show out.’ They’ve been able to use this as a wonderful witnessing tool.”
Once Emma returns to her home off Highway 5 in the Clayton community, Adams says she will have to go back to Atlanta five days a week for the rehab sessions, which will each last six hours.
Adams and Emma’s parents are hoping simply being home will help her recover further.
They are, however, concerned about where the money will come from because insurance will only pay for so much out-patient therapy, Adams said. They have set up an online donations fund where well-wishers can donate at www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-put-our-princess-emma-back-together-again-/149315.
“Everybody has been so generous with their prayers and with their giving,” Adams said.