Eau Claire (WQOW) - Suffering an injury that requires occupational or physical therapy can be a long and painful process for anyone. A 7-year-old Lake Hallie girl is going through both, while recovering from a serious sledding accident.
It happened at Pinehurst Park in Eau Claire. Three weeks ago Pinehurst was flooded with flashing lights and emergency vehicles, all there to get Danica Hawke some much needed help after she crashed into a tree.
On Friday, WQOW News 18 visited Danica at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Inside the walls of Mayo Clinic, patients are aiming to make a full recovery.
With each toss and try at standing up, Danica is getting stronger. Danica's physical therapist at Mayo Clinic, Linda Pirius, says, "We call it neuromuscular re-education, so we're re-educating her brain and her body on where she needs to be and what she needs to do."
The hospital has been her home for three weeks. "Cause I have skull fractures" explains Danica.
Jeremy Hawke, Danica's dad, says, "She hit her head back of her head, so it kind of affected the memory area. She fractured her skull."
Linda says, "It's very exhausting and sometimes it's easy to forget when someone injures their brain."
If you ask her how it happened, Danica's answer is simple. "Because I got in a sledding accident," she says. She remembers getting a push from her sister. And then, "That my eyes were shut when I went down the hill. And then that's all," recalls Danica.
What she doesn't remember is hitting the tree. "It's kind of a blur, everything was happening so fast. She was bleeding out of her ears," says Jeremy.
Danica was rushed to Mayo Clinic in Eau Claire and from there, airlifted to Rochester, where she spent the first three days in the ICU. Danica broke her left arm, injured her neck and received several skull fractures.
"Everyday is pretty much different, some days she wants to eat, some days she doesn't want to eat."
And this isn't Danica's first extended stay at a hospital. When she was just six months old, she had a Wilm's Tumor. "Which is a cancerous tumor of the kidney. It pretty much engulfed her entire kidney, they had to remove that. Luckily she didn't have to have chemo or radiation or anything like that," explains Jeremy.
With each session, Danica is closer to leaving her team of doctors. Jeremy says, "It's always a thought in the back of my head, what if there's a complication?"
As for getting back on the hill again, "We've talked about sliding... she wants to slide again. I think we'll go to North High School though where there's no buildings, no trees," says Jeremy.
Jeremy says while there are still some tough days, every day Danica's more and more herself. Danica will be heading back home to Lake Hallie Tuesday.
But her recovery process isn't anywhere near over yet. Danica will continue with her therapy about twice a week. And it will be at least a few weeks before she can get back to school.
As you can imagine, a long hospital stay like the one Danica's had takes a toll on any family.
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