Dutch national champion Amy Pieters is continuing her recovery from a crash on December 23 that left her in a coma partially from home. Her father Peter Pieters has spoken about the accident and the recovery of his daughter for the first time. Dutch broadcaster NOS went to the home of Pieters’ parents where she now spends the weekends. She cannot talk or walk but makes progress every day, her father says.
This week marks a year since Pieters won a long-awaited first national road title after being in the top 7 since 2011. The NOS video shows Pieters watching those images with her family and her boyfriend Stefan.
“We don’t want to hide her away anymore,” Pieters’ father explains of the decision to invite a camera crew to his house. “So many people want to know how she is doing.”
“We see progress but she can’t talk and can’t move her right arm and leg. She spent three months in a coma, then she woke up but a very low level. She didn’t react much. She had to learn how to breath, then how to eat. She progressed from there on but had a big setback through an epilepsy attack which happens a lot in brain damage.”
Amy spends the weekend at home where she eats with her family and watches bike races on television. The next step is learning how to speak again. She spends the weeks in a recovery centre.
“We need to help her with everything but we are still hopeful. It takes so much time but the doctors still see the progress. Brain damage is different in everyone and the doctors tell us they can’t do anything. The brain needs to start and rewire by itself. These things take so much time.”
Although she can’t speak Pieters is able to interact with her family. In the video she is sat in a wheelchair with a notepad with cartoons drawn by teammate Christine Majerus on her lap.
“She understands more and more if we ask her something,” her father says. Amy smiles at him when he touches her arm. “She nods yes or no. She also starts to get her own way again. We hope she can move to a special facility for young people with brain damage where she has four hours of therapy a day. Then things could progress fast to learn everything again like walking and speaking.”
Stig Broeckx, the Belgian rider who also spent months in a coma as well, is an example to the Pieters family.
“Stig’s injury was a different one [than Amy’s] but he is still progressing six years after his accident. We would sign up to see Amy get this far,” Pieters’ father concludes.