Girl kicked by mule improving, still faces long road to recovery

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Family optimistic despite girl's brain injury from mule

Nine-year-old Emma Carolina Johnson would rather be riding horses or playing the piano. Instead, she’s fighting to return to the little girl she was before a New Year’s Eve accident left her critically injured.

Emma was kicked in the head by a mule that wandered into her neighbor's yard, leaving her unconscious. She was flown from her Cherokee County home to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, where she underwent surgery to remove a portion of her skull.

Nearly a month after the accident, Emma is still hospitalized. But she’s improving every day, her family says.

“She’s a very spunky, very determined, very stubborn little girl, and that’s going to be to her advantage” Sheila Adams, Emma’s aunt, said Monday.

Emma has started rehabilitation and her family has been told it will be a long process. It’s too early to know the lasting complications she may have from the injury.

But her family and friends remain optimistic while monitoring her progress. Adams provides daily updates about "Princess Emma" on a Caring Bridge website, where friends continue to post words of encouragement. Over the weekend, Adams posted that doctors have determined Emma still has her long-term memory.

“She was able to answer several questions using her eyes to indicate answers concerning her animals’ names and favorite foods and activities that she remembers from before the accident,” Adams posted on the Caring Bridge site Sunday. “This is wonderful news and we are praising God for this miracle!!”

Emma’s parents have not spoken publicly since the accident, choosing instead to stay by her side. But through relatives, Emma’s parents have said they are overwhelmed by the positive thoughts by so many, and are grateful to Children’s Healthcare.

In addition to the Caring Bridge site, those wishing to assist the family can donate to the “Benefit account for Emma Johnson” at Regions Bank branches.