Road to recovery

LEHIGH – Nine months ago, Emma Kiefer was at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines after being seriously injured in a car accident just outside Callender.

The Lehigh teen was driving home from a baby-sitting job on Oct. 27, 2013, when she was hit on the driver’s side of her car by another driver who ran a stop sign at the intersection of U.S. Highway 169 and 290th Street.

For more than a month, Kiefer was in critical care.

Today, Kiefer, 18, is back home and working hard on her recovery. She can now walk on her own without any assistance and is working to get back to where she was before the accident.

Though the accident caused her to have long-term memory loss, which has made remembering past events a challenge, Kiefer said her recovery has gone well.

“I’m feeling a lot better,” she said. “The therapists think it’s going very well.”

Kiefer attends weekly therapy at On With Life, an Ankeny rehabilitation facility that specializes in brain injuries.

During therapy, Kiefer said one of her proudest moments was when she was able to “plank,” which is laying down flat on her back.

“At first they were like, ‘do a plank,'” she said, adding at first it was a challenge for her but she’s now greatly improved. “Now I can do it for 30 seconds.”

Kiefer said one of her biggest goals is to be able to stay up later in the evening.

“I get tired easily,” she said. “I want to be able to stay up with people who are in my age group.”

Her mother, Angie Kiefer, said the family is working on getting her daughter into a routine.

“We want her to be able to physically keep up with people her age,” Angie Kiefer said. “But it’s also about knowing limits. When I recognize that she’s showing weakness and is tired, that’s when we’ll stop.”

Emma Kiefer also admitted that she gets frustrated a lot more than she did before the accident.

But she said her faith has helped her get through all of her challenges.

“I was really religious before,” she said. “When I have a bad day, I talk to God.”

While attending rehab is one way Kiefer is recovering, there are also other activities she does to help transition back to living a normal life.

Among those activities is Kiefer’s involvement in 4-H, which she said has been very helpful in her recovery process.

“When I did my home improvement, it felt like therapy,” Kiefer said.

Her hard work in 4-H has also paid off. She recently redid a dress which received an honorable mention at the Webster County Fair and she also baked chocolate chip and banana cookies which received a ribbon at the fair as well.

“It came as a surprise to me,” she said.

Kiefer continues to be involved in 4-H rabbit shows. She has shown rabbits at the Webster County Fair and the Iowa State Fair in the past, and is still involved in open shows.

She is already making plans for the future.

“My plan is to become a teacher for hearing-impaired students,” Kiefer said.

Angie Kiefer said the community has been very supportive of their family.

“They’ve been great,” Angie Kiefer said. “We’re still getting support from everybody.”