Woman who ‘picked her own arm off road’ after crash may never play cello again
A musician from East London had to pick her “arm up from the road” after a lorry crashed into her and ran over her limb.
Laura Armstrong was cycling in Temple Mills Lane, Stratford, when a driver turned left through a cycle lane, colliding into the 23-year-old.
Recalling the incident, the cello player said she could “never have imagined” she could be “in such pain” and there was blood everywhere.
She was rushed to The Royal London Hospital where she underwent emergency surgery to replace the main artery in her arm which had been destroyed in the crash.
Two days later, Laura underwent a further 11-hour operation which involved a nerve graft, two plates for a fracture and skin grafts from her right and left thighs.
Speaking about the ordeal in October 2019 she said: “The crash happened so quickly. I was cycling in the cycle lane and suddenly the lorry turned directly across my path and I ended up under the lorry.
“I remember picking my arm up from the road and my fingers were white and wouldn’t move.
“There was blood on the road. It was terrifying and excruciatingly painful. I never imagined one could be in such pain.
“The surgeons told me they were very close to amputating my arm but they were amazing and managed to save it. As a musician, what they did for me goes beyond words and I will always be thankful.”
Due to her injuries, Laura was unable to continue with her master’s degree at the Royal College of Music and was forced to defer her place whilst she underwent rehabilitation.
As part of her musical career, the talented cellist had toured in Britain, Scandinavia and Singapore and performed with world-famous conductors and composers including Sir Mark Elder and the late Oliver Knussen.
It has been devastating for Laura to severely injure her hand and she is still undergoing significant treatment today.
She added: “What happened that day continues to affect me still, both physically and emotionally. The accident has had a huge impact on my ability to do everyday things, including having to learn to write with my left hand.
“I have very little feeling in my right hand and limited movement in my arm and my greatest challenge is not knowing what the future holds for my career and if I will be able to become a cellist.
“I have an incredible professor, Raphael Wallfisch, and the Royal College of Music has helped me throughout my recovery. Music is hugely important to me so I am determined to keep trying.”
Although Laura has not returned to cycling since the collision, she said it is “vital that everyone feels safe” on the roads.
She has now instructed lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help her access the specialist rehabilitation and therapies she requires, and is backing a campaign to change the highway code.
Anna Pask, specialist serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell said: “Laura has faced an incredibly difficult time as she has attempted to come to terms with her injuries and the impact they’ve had on her life.
“The team at The Royal London did a fantastic job in saving Laura’s arm and while she has made progress in her recovery to date, she still faces many challenges ahead and will never regain full use of her arm.
“Given we represent people on a daily basis whose lives have been shattered as a result of death or serious injury on our roads, we support the proposed changes to The Highway Code as a welcome revision to assist all road users and improve road safety.
“We’re determined to support Laura so she can make the best possible recovery.”