A specialist lawyer hailed her seriously injured former client as ‘an inspiration’ as the road accident victim launched the next stage of her life as a published author at Boyes Turner’s offices in Reading this week (Wednesday).
Jessica Stevens was left fighting for her life after a serious road accident in 2015 in which she suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, a fractured pelvis, an injury to her right shoulder, a collapsed lung and internal bleeding, spending six weeks in a coma.
But serious injury expert Kim Smerdon, from Thames Valley law firm Boyes Turner, worked with the then 25-year-old to get her access to rehabilitation as soon as she was able to leave hospital – enabling her to return to her job with the Financial Ombudsman within 14 months of her accident.
And now Jessica, who continues to suffer some health problems as a result of the accident, has taken the next step in her career by launching a book called Everything is Broken, which tells the story of her injuries and her recovery, at a special celebratory event at Boyes Turner’s offices.
Jessica still remembers nothing about the accident or the period immediately before or after it but was subsequently told that she was struck by a speeding driver as she was turning right onto the main road from the street in which she lived with her parents and brother.
Once out of the coma, a month and half after the incident in June 2015, Jessica spent a further three months in hospital, learning to walk and talk again.
In the immediate aftermath, she was left very unsteady on her feet, with slowed and slurred speech and with her right arm locked in a bent position, as well as facing weakness down the whole of the right side of her body.
Although she was eventually able to return home, she had to undergo continual rehabilitation involving a number of therapists providing physiotherapy, occupational therapy, personal training and a phased return to work.
Through sheer determination, Jessica made an impressive recovery, though she still suffers from ongoing problems including a continued weakness in her right-hand side, limited dexterity in her right hand, inability to straighten her right arm, problems with balance, scarring, memory problems and an increased risk of epilepsy and further stroke.
Now, her battle to recover and achieve the best possible quality of life she can has been captured in her honest and revealing book, launched at the event hosted by Boyes Turner, who worked with Jessica to ensure she could access the support she needed and will continue to need.
Kim Smerdon, a partner and specialist in brain and serious injuries at Boyes Turner, said:
I couldn’t be happier for Jessica. To have achieved what she has achieved in terms of her recovery and the life she has built for herself is nothing short of incredible.
“She’s an absolute inspiration to anyone who faces the challenge of recovering from a serious brain injury.
“Her story shows the importance of injured people receiving quick rehabilitation and physiotherapy to help them begin their recovery journey as quickly as possible. It was vital in helping Jessica and played a huge part in her being able to return to work as quickly as she did, which was always her goal.
“To see her now launching her own book is just fantastic. She deserves every success and I’ve no doubt that this is just the beginning of another inspirational journey for her.
Jessica, from Hendon, North West London, said:
I was out cold from the accident for six weeks and even when I came out of the coma, I then had to learn how to walk again, how to brush my hair and to dress myself.
“The rehabilitation I was able to get as soon as possible meant I could work with an occupational therapist, a neuro physio and a personal trainer to work my way back to being as strong as possible and get some confidence again.
The 29-year old has already spoken to some other Boyes Turner clients who have suffered similar life-changing injuries to pass on her experiences and said her book aimed to help others who suffer serious injury in their recovery as well.
It really does turn your life upside down in a moment, not just for me but for my family as well. It’s been a difficult journey, sometimes very emotional, but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in my recovery and in being able to tell this story too,” she said.
“My story shows what can be achieved with the support of the right people and a little determination. I look back on where I was and I’m delighted with where I am now. I’ve still got a way to go and I still have some effects from the accident to deal with but I hope people see what I’ve achieved and it helps them as they begin their recovery.
Chris Day, whose firm Filament have published Everything is Broken, said:
Jessica has been on a traumatic, emotional but ultimately successful journey from her original accident and injuries to where she is today. Her story makes for incredible reading and will inspire many people, whether they are in a similar situation or not.