It has been six months since Dutch champion Amy Pieters suffered a devastating head injury in a crash during a training camp in Spain and her family revealed in an interview with NOS.nl that she is making progress in her rehabilitation.
According to her father Peter, Amy has been improving slowly after spending three months in a coma.
"She is convalescing in Dordrecht, but she is now home on the weekends," he said. "They will bring her on Friday and we will bring her back on Sunday evening. That is very nice now. And that is also good for her, you notice that well."
Although Amy Pieters is still partially paralyzed on her right side, she is making steady progress since beginning to emerge from the coma in mid-March.
"She woke up at a very low level. There was very little reaction from her. Very slowly that has improved in recent months," her father said. "First she had to learn to breathe on her own, then she had to learn to eat and now she actually eats with us. The next step is that she learns to talk."
In the NOS video, Pieters is watching the 2021 national championships where she escaped on the VAM-berg to win the title, occasionally nodding and smiling in response to his comments.
"She understands more and more when you ask something. Then she nods yes or no. You also notice more and more that she has her own will again and she occasionally says no. Do you want to eat? No. But despite everything, she is quite optimistic, quite cheerful to deal with."
The family is remaining hopeful but for the time being, Pieters needs help with daily activities and doctors have qualified that every brain injury patient is different.
Stig Broeckx, the former Lotto Soudal racer, was said to be in a vegetative state with severe brain damage after a crash in the 2016 Baloise Belgium Tour, but after four months began to show signs of recovery. After seven months he was officially out of the coma and one year later was able to ride a stationary trainer. It was more than two years before he could ride outside and now, six years later, he lives independently with his partner Marlies and they are expecting a child.
"He had a very different brain injury, but he is still making progress after six years," Peter Pieters said of Broeckx. "I'll sign up if Amy can get that far."
Whether or not she can make it that far can only be answered with time. "We can't do anything about the brain, they say. It has to happen automatically," her father said. "The connections have to be made again and that takes time. They tell us that if ten patients come in with exactly the same injury, they will be treated in ten different ways."
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Managing Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks. Laura's specialises in covering doping, anti-doping, UCI governance and performing data analysis.