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Girl hit by van sent to rehab unit

August 21, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Five-year-old Shania Shockey's condition continues to improve as she embarks on a lengthy rehabilitation program to recover from injuries she suffered when she was run over by a van near her home.

Shockey, who was in a coma for about two weeks following the July 21 accident in Hagerstown, was admitted Wednesday to the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore after spending four weeks at Children's Medical Center in Washington D.C.

Bill Heise, Shania's father, said hospital personnel transported his daughter to the Baltimore facility, where she will undergo extensive rehabilitation relating to functions such as speech and walking.

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Children's Medical Center doctors, who nearly took the 5-year-old off life support about one week after she was struck, expected Shania to remain at the medical center for treatment for severe head injuries until early-to-mid September, Heise said.

Heise said doctors have told him Shania will undergo therapy for at least six to eight weeks because she suffered permanent damage to 3/4 of her brain. After the initial therapy period, Shania could return home while continuing an outpatient program.

"She's doing amazingly well considering what she's gone through," he said. "I didn't expect this so soon. I never thought she'd make it this far."

Shania was injured when a van struck the youngster in a lot behind her 50 E. Baltimore St. home, according to Hagerstown City Police.

Witnesses said the girl was playing with a hula hoop at the rear of the van before the accident. Heise said he believed his daughter's hula hoop got caught on the van's spare tire rack, and she was pulled under the van because she did not let go.

A police spokesman said Wednesday no charges have been filed.

The family has since erected a fence to divide the children's play area from the public lot where Shania was injured.

Shania was in an induced coma until Aug. 4, when doctors determined she could breathe on her own, Heise said. Two days later, the girl began to speak coherently again.

Heise said Wednesday Shania is still having problems with blurry vision. She could not see at all two weeks ago, he said.

Heise said his daughter is starting to remember more about her life, including the family dog, her favorite toys and Scooby-Doo.

Heise said the family is hoping Shania makes a near-full recovery, though he expects it to be a lengthy process that will leave her with some limitations.

"She was always a happy-go-lucky kid," Heise said. "I'm sure she's going to be the same way when she comes home."

Heise credited the efforts of staff members from Community Rescue Services, city police, Washington County Hospital and Children's Medical Center, along with Shania's willpower, for her survival.

"My daughter wouldn't be here now if it wasn't for everything everybody did," he said.

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