Severely injured toddler's fighting spirit defies odds - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Severely injured toddler's fighting spirit defies odds

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Doctors said Katie Barkley would never be able to move again.

The toddler was involved in a serious crash in Cleveland last month during the stretch of winter weather that made road conditions treacherous.

Her family says they aren't giving up hope, but they need help.

"I want her to have her life back," said Katie's mother, Katelynn, pushing back tears. "I want her to be her little happy, dancing self that she used to be."

The mom often watches old videos of her daughter before the crash. The happy memories are tough to watch. Katie hasn't left Children's Hospital ICU since the crash. Her brain and spinal cord are severely damaged.

A month ago doctors told Katelynn her daughter would never be able to move from the neck down. But – "she moves," Katelynn said.

"Then they said she'll never be able to move the right side because the brain damage is on the left… but she does. Everything they say, about a week later, she starts doing it."

The proud mom said her daughter is making progress.

"It's mostly her legs, but she did start moving her fingers a lot more today."

Katie has now moved her fingers, arms, legs and toes. She smiles, and is finally giving Mom kisses again.

"It's the best thing in the world," Katelynn said.

The family sees daily signs of hope, and now they're hoping their insurance company will pull through, after finally finding a rehab program agreeing to help with injuries as severe as Katie's.

"Every rehab in the United States has said no – that her brain injury is just too extensive to take on – but Maryland is the only one that's said yes," said Katelynn.

The rehab program is at Kennedy Kreiger Institute in Baltimore. Katelynn said the three-month program would work with Katie for six hours per day on physical therapy and cognitive exercises.

Katelynn said she still isn't giving up dreaming her daughter might walk again, or someday breathe without a machine.

It's an uphill battle, but this mom says she's not giving up.

And neither is Katie.

"She's giving me a lot of hope. Those kisses are giving me hope."

Family members have set up a website with daily updates on Katie's condition as well as a place to help out with their mounting medical bills. 

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