ELLSWORTH — Darci Fortier has never been one to blend in.
Clad in orange from her socks to her painted fingernails, she stands out against the white walls at the Brewer Health and Rehabilitation Center.
The 26-year-old Ellsworth resident has been at the center since September after suffering serious brain injuries in an all-terrain vehicle accident in May.
Darci has made great strides since the accident that left her unable to move, speak or breathe on her own for months.
Over the course of the summer, she was taken off her ventilator and began making sounds, eating real food, waving, nodding and shaking her head.
Her mother, Lorri Fortier, celebrated a birthday Sept. 2. Darci was able to tell her “Hi Mom.”
Darci still relies on sign language and typing with her right arm to communicate as she works to gain flexibility and control of her left.
She can walk with assistance, but struggles with balance. Her therapists believe she may need to rely on a wheelchair for the rest of her life, but family members are hopeful that she will regain full function.
Doctors estimate Darci’s improvement will plateau after 18 months. Not yet halfway through this crucial period in her recovery, she continues to surprise family and friends with her progress.