Road Traffic Accident: Floss

Teenager Floss was out celebrating her birthday in May 2019 when she sustained a severe brain injury as a passenger in a car accident. Dad Robin shares their story.

Floss standing next to her dad Robin at The Children's Trust

Published: June 2022 Date of brain injury: May 2019 (aged 17 years old)

Floss was a fit and healthy A-level student, and a keen rugby player, working towards a career as a lawyer. In May 2019, Floss was celebrating her 17th birthday in her hometown of Barnard Castle when she was a passenger in a high-speed car accident. She sustained a severe brain injury which put her in a coma for a month. 

Floss was taken to The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where she spent three months – initially in the intensive care unit before being transferred to the high dependency care unit. 

The accident left Floss unable to walk, communicate or feed herself, with limited awareness of the world around her for nearly a year.

Leaving hospital

Floss in the ICU two days after her accident in May 2019

In July 2019, Floss was medically stable and moved to the Walkergate Park Centre for Neurorehabilitation and Neuropsychiatry in Newcastle to continue her recovery. We were told she had a Prolonged Disorder of Consciousness which meant that she had a reduced awareness of herself and her environment.

I was desperate to find someone who would give me help and hope. In October 2019, at a point when I felt I was running out of options, I had a chance conversation with a child neurorehabilitation specialist about where they would send their child. They replied, "why don't you try The Children's Trust?"

That same month I visited The Children’s Trust’s national specialist centre in Tadworth, Surrey and knew it was Floss’ best chance. But it wasn’t easy. It was a struggle, and required a lot of back and forth with NHS North East and Yorkshire to get her there.

Specialised rehabilitation

Floss was moved to The Children’s Trust in January 2020 for intensive rehabilitation. I felt so relieved as soon as we arrived. What a place! 

Robin feeding Floss at The Children's Trust in April 2020, 11 months after her accident

Floss had complex neurological needs and was fully dependent on others for all aspects of her care – using a hoist for all transfers. Her only way of moving around was in a wheelchair, and she did not have any voluntary movement of her arms, legs, head, or body. But within the first week of focused rehabilitation, my daughter showed responses not seen before and, three months later, she was declared clinically conscious and on the road to recovery. 

Floss had a range of treatment interventions at Tadworth, including splinting for her arms and legs to maintain joint range of movement and Botulinum Toxin injections to reduce muscle overactivity. 

This, combined with regular sessions of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and aquatic therapy, enabled Floss to make remarkable progress – helping her achieve one of her goals to regain a level of independence.

Physiotherapy sessions were probably Floss’s favourite, she was so engaged every time and they provided her with an opportunity to work one-to-one with a professional on developing head control and strengthening her muscles.
By the time we left The Children’s Trust in October 2020 Floss was able to participate in washing and dressing and was using a transfer aid rather than being hoisted. This involved her reaching and holding on to a bar and being able to pull to stand. 

Floss had also started to communicate and look after herself. She had started the process of trying to eat and had even got back on her feet with a few tentative and supported steps. But most importantly, The Children's Trust gave my daughter her smile back.

Moving back home and continuing to progress

Since moving back home Floss has continued to flourish. She still has a long way to go but her progress is consistent, and her determination levels are just incredible. 

Floss with her sister at home in July 2021, two years after her accident

While she cannot yet talk, most of her food remains PEG fed via a feeding tube (she does eat a limited amount each day, which continues to grow) and she retains significant physical disability, it is clear from communication that the ‘old’ Floss remains. We are so proud of how far she has come since the accident. 

Floss can now walk for five minutes with support. She can type on a grid pad to communicate with us, and she can use her own powered wheelchair. Floss continues to receive physiotherapy and speech and language therapy, as well as music and other therapies on a daily basis, and is making excellent progress. 

I am very optimistic that she will regain an excellent quality of life in the near future, and none of this would have happened had The Children’s Trust not existed and shown us the way.

Having run the Brighton Marathon and London Marathon in 2021, I am now in training to take part in this year’s London Marathon to help The Children’s Trust. 

I’m very excited to take on the challenge once more and raise vital funds for a charity that has given our family so much. We’ll be forever grateful for how the staff helped Floss with her recovery and I’m pleased we can give back in some way.

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boy sat reading a book

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