Up until 29 October 2006 Louise had led a normal life. She was aged 24 years. She was an only child who was very close to her parents. She was a very outgoing, bubbly and popular person.
She had been to a party on 28 October 2006 and, as with most 24 year olds at a party, she was having a good time drinking with her friends. In the early hours of 29 October, Louise accepted a lift from a friend at the end of the party. She was a front seat passenger in the vehicle. At approximately 4.30 am the driver exited a left hand bend too fast and lost control of the car causing it to leave the carriageway. The car struck a metal fence and a metal utility cupboard and Louise was ejected from the car before it came to rest. Unfortunately, Louise had not been wearing her seatbelt.
Louise sustained what were described as catastrophic injuries in the accident and suffered a very severe brain injury.
Louise was taken to hospital and had a Glasgow Coma score of 3. This is the lowest possible score anyone can sustain whilst alive. Her injuries were so severe that she was taken into intensive care and her parents were advised that it was unlikely she would survive and that they should plan her funeral. Louise required prolonged ventilation and a tracheostomy. Whilst in intensive care, she suffered episodes of severe sepsis requiring antibiotics.
As Louise started to come out of her coma, she was placed on an orthopaedic ward but had a low level state of awareness. At that time she had no active movement in her limbs and had poor head and neck control. She also had a PEG tube for nutrition.
By the end of January 2007, she was more responsive and had some spontaneous movement in her right hand. By this time she was deemed to have a Glasgow Coma score of 6. By May 2007, she was emerging from her low awareness state and her tracheostomy was removed.
Louise began a rehabilitation program and by May 2008, she was transferred out of hospital to a neuro-rehabilitation centre.
However, what the doctors had not taken into account was Louise’s fighting spirit and her stubborn streak. Louise’s mother was also not prepared to give up on her only child.
Although in a coma, over time Louise started to show signs of hearing the things that were being said to her.
Over time Louise did show improvement. However, the severity of her brain injury has left her with permanent difficulties. She has an impairment of the power and control of various muscle groups and ataxia. The definition of ataxia is poor coordination and unsteadiness due to the brains failure to regulate the body’s posture and regulate the strength and direction of limb movements. Louise is almost exclusively confined to a wheelchair. She can stand for limited periods of time in a frame with the assistance of carers and she is able to take one or two steps. She has poor trunk and pelvic control and is doubly incontinent.
Louise also has significant cognitive impairments involving difficulties with attention, concentration and memory. She has problems with problem solving and decision making. She is disorientated in time and place and has limited insight into her difficulties. As a result of this, the Court of Protection appointed a deputy for Louise in respect of her property and affairs. This deputy is Ruth Meyer of Boyes Turner.
A claim for compensation was instigated by Louise’s mother as her Litigation Friend which led to her being awarded damages in 2012.
Part of the claim advanced on Louise’s behalf was that she should live in her own home with carers. As is frequently the case, the defendant insurers fought this although Louise was successful in her claim and was awarded sufficient damages to enable her to purchase her own home and for a team of carers to be recruited.
Louise’s parents have worked tirelessly in ensuring the best for their daughter, to include the litigation battle.
A suitable property was located by Louise’s mother and purchase of the same was completed in late 2013. The property then required some adaptation to make it fully suitable to meet Louise’s needs.
During this time, Louise worked with a team of therapists to practise the type of things she would need to do in her own home. This included cooking and washing up.
Finally, the adaptations to Louise’s property were completed and following the successful recruitment of a 24 hour care team, Louise moved out of the rehabilitation facility into her home in July 2014. This was the first time she had been out of some type of institution since her accident in 2006. This was obviously a major achievement.
To enable Louise to continue working on her rehabilitation, the house has been designed in such a way that she can be encouraged to work on and achieve as many items of daily living as possible. This includes two wind handle worktops in her kitchen, one with a magnetic hob and the other with a sink. Therefore with the help and encouragement of the team around her, Louise is able to enjoy her own home and continue with her ongoing rehabilitation so that she can do as much for herself as possible.
Louise’s mum has said that although it was a long hard struggle from what was the worst day of her life when her daughter met with this serious accident, and the eight long years of battle both in respect of Louise’s recovery and the litigation, she sees her daughter as her miracle and confirms that the fight was worth it to now see Louise happy in her own home.