by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:
ATLANTA - For the first time we are hearing from the family of a girl who suffered a traumatic brain injury.
A mule kicked Emma Johnson, 9, in the head after it escaped from a pasture in Cherokee County.
Family members told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh the doctors at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite have given the family reason to be optimistic.
"The day they told us they would be taking her from Egleston to Scottish Rite out of ICU we knew then that there was light,” said Emma’s aunt, Sheila Adams.
In December, Emma was with her mother helping a neighbor corral two mules. The mules had gotten loose in their Cherokee County neighborhood.
In the commotion, one of them kicked Emma on the right side of her head. Paramedics rushed her to the hospital.
“The first seven days they told them they were very honest with them," Adams said.
Adams said at first there was doubt Emma would make it.
"It's just been a blessing that she survived and that is a miracle."
The slow process of recovering from a traumatic brain injury is underway. Adams said every day is a step forward.
"They told them, they said, ‘Emma's in there. It's just going to take a while for us to get her out,’" Adams said.
Close family friend Alex Manning said doctors at Scottish Rite are now working on Emma's long- and short
-term memory, speech and muscle strength.
Tests have revealed some positive activity.
"She does rehab every day from about 9 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon,” Manning said.
"They can put things in front of her and she puts her eyes in the direction of the answer. And, oh yeah, she's done a lot of talking with her eyes,” Adams said. "She's a very spunky, very determined, very stubborn little girl and that's going to be to her advantage."
“Tough as nails. I really didn't have any question in my mind that would pull through this if any kid could,” Manning said.
Family members said doctors estimate it could be six to eight months before Emma makes a full recovery. Meanwhile medical bills are piling up.
The family has created a donation account. If anyone would like to help the family, they can do so at any Regions Bank location under the “Benefit Account for Emma Johnson.’