The survivor of a traumatic brain injury who thought she would never walk again has hiked 284 miles to raise money for London's Air Ambulance service - which may have saved her life.

On July 27, 2018 Emily was walking along a pavement in Crystal Palace, having just left her boyfriend’s flat, when she was hit by a car.

A witness described her as being thrown into the air before landing and hitting her head on the pavement, which knocked her unconscious and left her struggling to breathe.

A London Air Ambulance advanced trauma team, which specialises in providing on-the-scene care to seriously injured patients, was dispatched to the scene to assist paramedics.

The air ambulance crew identified that Emily had likely suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and a fractured skull, and put her into an induced coma to protect and preserve her airway.

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This helped prevent Emily from having a secondary brain injury by ensuring as much oxygen as possible reached her lungs – and therefore her brain – while also allowing the team to monitor and control her carbon dioxide levels.

This is something that only an Air Ambulance advanced trauma team can do on the scene in London, so this intervention may have saved Emily’s life.

Emily was then taken by ambulance to King’s College Hospital, where it was confirmed that she had suffered a severe traumatic brain injury.

She needed an operation to remove part of her skull to reduce pressure in her brain, and was then admitted to intensive care where she remained in an induced coma for three weeks.

Emily recalls the moment she regained consciousness. She said: “I remember waking up from the coma, hearing machines beeping and being so confused.

“I have no memory of the accident at all.”

She remained at King’s College Hospital for the next seven months, before being transferred to Amersham Hospital in Buckinghamshire to begin a lengthy rehabilitation process.

Emily added: “Rehab was tough. The first day I arrived, I explained to the staff that I didn’t think I would ever be able to walk again.”

In June 2019, Emily underwent a cranioplasty to replace the piece of skull that had previously been removed, before spending a further four months in a second rehabilitation centre.

It was during this period that she was diagnosed with a pseudobulbar affect, a neurological condition that can cause sudden uncontrollable laugher or crying.

Emily explained: “I have the ‘laughing symptom’ which is a result of my brain injury. I now get very giggly when I’m anxious or stressed.

“It can be inappropriate if it happens when someone tells me something sad, but it’s something I’m learning to manage.”

Having spent over a year in hospitals, and with the support of her friends and family, Emily has now relearnt how to talk, eat and walk again, and is now back home, where she is studying for a degree in nutrition.

She explained: “I want to help neurodivergent people and people with acquired brain injuries as I believe the brain needs a healthy eating lifestyle to be able to thrive.

"I feel pretty much how I did before, if not a little better as I’m more aware of the little things we take for granted.”

Emily also wanted to give something back to the air ambulance service, so during lockdown she made greetings cards to raise funds for London’s Air Ambulance Charity, at a time when their own fundraising activities were put on hold.

She said: “I wanted to raise money for London’s Air Ambulance Charity, as I knew just how valuable they were. It was also a little art therapy for me, as it helped the function in my left hand.”

Last year Emily also took part in the Miles for Missions challenge, and walked a total of 284 miles over six weeks to raise money for the charity.

Emily said: “I picked 284 because that is how many feet high London’s Air Ambulance helipad is. It was a fun challenge and Pip my Havanese [dog] enjoyed it too.

“It was a great achievement, especially as I didn’t think I would ever walk again just a couple of years beforehand.”

At the end of the walking challenge Emily visited the helipad and met the paramedic, Lee, who had attended to her as she lay unconscious on the street back in 2019.

Emily’s efforts have raised a total £3,500 for the charity, which is more than enough to cover the cost of a mission for another patient.