Taisia Sidorova, 21, from St Petersburg, was given the last rites after the accident three years ago that left half her skull smashed and fragments of bone wedged in her brain.
Doctors had to remove the damaged left hemisphere of her brain, responsible for logic and analysis and placed a protective plate inside her head.
They did not hold out much hope for her recovery and warned her mother Irina that she would likely be disabled for the rest of her life.
But slowly – with the love and support of her family – she came around, started to speak and was eventually allowed to return home.
Irina said: ‘She needed to rest and recover her strength when she was here – there still needed to be operations to rebuild her skull.
‘That was when she started sketching – for therapy – although she’d never been interested in that before. And she was really good too. We bought her some paints as well and is now top of the class for her creations.’
Art teacher Ludmilla Ostrowski said: ‘I would never have rated her artistic ability before but she’s like a new person now – she has a natural talent for art. It is incredible.’
Her mother added: ‘She was like a vegetable at the beginning. Doctors did not believe she would survive. I did not want to accept it though and I stayed by her bedside and prayed and massaged her and talked to her.’
She said the breakthrough came on New Year’s Eve when she was crying by her daughter’s bedside. Taisia then moved her arm to wipe away her mother’s tears.
Two years later, she had learnt how to hold a pencil in her left hand before picking up a paint brush.
A doctor that treated Taisia added: ‘The human brain is a remarkable thing – in her case the part that remains seems to have developed to compensate for the missing part – and at the same time given her a previously undiscovered talent for art.’
Doctors in modern medicine will still occasionally operate to remove half of the brain in the case of people suffering other conditions such as severe seizures that prevent them having a normal life.
Research done by neurologist John Freeman from the Johns Hopkins University indicated that the younger the patient is after having a hemispherectomies often, the more likely they were to recover.
He cited one young patient that became a champion bowler and another became the state chess champion.
‘Others are in college and doing very nicely,’ he said.
He added: ‘You can walk, run – some dance or skip – but you lose use of the hand opposite of the hemisphere that was removed.’
Taisia, who lost her left hemisphere, has only limited movement in her right hand and limited vision. She now paints with her left hand.
He found the left side of the brain also controlled speech but that if removed the right side could take over the role of communication.