Malala Yousafzai, 15, was shot in the head because she campaigned for girls’ education and vocally opposed the Taliban. On Monday she was flown to Birmingham in a critical condition for advanced medical treatment.
Doctors say Malala is now able to write again but is unable to speak due to a tracheotomy tube in her throat. They have also warned that she is “not out of the woods yet”.
Dr Dave Rosser, medical director at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, said Malala is keen to thank people for their support and is aware of the global interest her story has generated.
He said that scans have shown some physical damage to her brain but there is not yet any sign of deficit in function. However, an infection believed to be related to the track of a bullet that grazed her head is a cause for concern.
“She seems able to understand. She’s got motor control, she’s able to write,” the doctor explained.
“Whether there’s any subtle intellectual or memory deficits down the line is too early to say. It is possible she will make a smooth recovery, but it is impossible to tell I’m afraid.”
The Taliban say they shot the girl at point-blank range because she was promoting “western thinking” and was critical of their practices.
The bullet hit her left brow and travelled underneath the skin along the side of her head and into her neck without penetrating the skull. Shockwaves are believed to have shattered a small part of Malala’s skull sending fragments into her brain.
Malala emerged from a medically induced coma on Tuesday and asked nurses what country she was in. Any reconstructive surgery on her skull will now have to wait until after a period of rehabilitation that could take several weeks.