AN Irish mum has begun to smile at her family and answer questions five months after a devastating car crash left her in a coma.
Nicole Ryan Graham (27), from Limerick, has been recovering rapidly since she was transferred from the Meadowbrook Rehab Center in Gardner, Kansas.
The mother-of-three has been benefiting from 24-hour attention and intensive, concentrated treatment which is beginning to reap benefits.
Her mother Caroline Ryan O'Connell continues to stay by her daughter's side in Kansas and is delighted with Nicole's progress since she went into the rehabilitation centre seven weeks ago.
"She is still surprising me every time I see her," she said.
"She is one tough cookie, right now she has learned to thumbs up for 'yes' and fist for 'no' and she will answer a lot of questions in that way.
"It is really heartwarming to know she understands us after such a long time and all she has been through -- it just melts the heart
"We have got a few smiles from her. She looks so like my mam when she smiles, I laugh and cry it's really great.
"People would have to understand where Nicky was and where she is right now to know what she is doing is amazing."
Nicole spent eight weeks in a coma since a horrific car crash in Kansas on February 8.
Employed as a court clerk, Nicole she has three daughters, Kendra, Katie and Kellsey, aged between 20 months and 11.
Nicole's family in Moyross, Limerick city, and her friends across the Atlantic have been involved in fundraising efforts to help pay for her substantial hospital bills.
The family has been appealing for help in paying for Nicole's medical expenses because she did not have health insurance.
She has been left with a bill of in excess of $1m (€795,000) but, thankfully, she was recently issued with a green card and is having her treatment covered by Medicaid.
Nicole has been living in the US for the past 13 years.
The accident happened when she lost control and drove into a wall. The condition of the road was said to have been extremely hazardous at the time of the crash .