'Remarkable' recovery for Burbank teen after crash, coma

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Less than a year after a head-on crash left her in a coma, a Burbank teen is recovering steadily. (KABC)

Olivia Menke doesn't remember much about the head-on crash with a fire truck that left her in a coma on the day she was supposed to graduate from high school last year.

She spent 10 days in a coma, and when she awoke, she had to relearn everything - even how to breathe, swallow and speak.

Her mother recalls hearing a tough evaluation from her doctors.

"The best case scenario is very small imperceptible differences, that only people close to her would see," Erica Menke recalled. "Worst case is she could be in a coma for years."

But now, less than a year after the crash, Menke is beating the odds with her steady recovery.

"She was one of the few patients that I think in this type of situation had a remarkable injury and remarkable recovery as well," said Dr. Manuel Blanco, with the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center where she was flown after the crash.

She knows She was one of the lucky ones. Many patients who experience severe brain trauma like Menke did last June in Malibu suffer permanent injuries. Usually less than 5 percent experience a full recovery.

Now she's working two jobs to help her save money and scholarships will cover much of her tuition.

Her mother says the biggest change she's noticed is that her daughter is just more grateful.

"Now I'm getting more hugs and she's just more appreciative of everything she has," Erica Menke said.
Related Topics:
healthcar crashmedical emergencysurgeryBurbankMalibuLos Angeles County
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