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Author Topic: Wife: Injured firefighter not as lucid  (Read 585 times)
izalco
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« on: May 05, 2005, 06:18:32 »

http://www.cnn.com/2005/HEALTH/conditions/05/04/firefighter.recovery.ap/index.html


BUFFALO, New York (AP) -- A brain-injured firefighter who started speaking after almost a decade of near-total silence has had moments of clarity since then but has not matched Saturday's startling progress, his wife said Wednesday.

His doctor said the dramatic improvement came three months after his medication was changed.

Don Herbert, who will turn 44 on Saturday, went without oxygen for several minutes after being trapped under a collapsed roof while fighting a house fire in December 1995. He spent 2 1/2 months in a coma and was left blind and with little, if any, memory.

But last Saturday, he suddenly asked for his wife, Linda. And over the next 14 hours, until he fell asleep early Sunday morning, he chatted with her, his four sons and other family and friends, catching up on what he'd missed.

"He has had several infrequent moments of lucidity, which has given us much hope for further recovery," Linda Herbert said at a news conference at Erie County Medical Center. "Although the subsequent periods of lucidity were not of the quality of Saturday, they were still of a degree which was considerably higher than before Saturday."

The family had said that Herbert, a father of four, was stunned that nearly a decade had passed. His youngest son was just 4 when the accident happened.

Experts say such cases are so rare they don't have much to study, and note that news accounts usually leave out the details needed to evaluate possible causes. There have been a few other widely publicized examples of brain-damaged patients showing sudden improvement after a number of years, at least temporarily.

At Wednesday's news conference, Dr. Jamil Ahmed said Herbert was put on new medication three months ago that he thought might take six months to be effective. When Ahmed examined him on Saturday, he could follow commands such as shaking his head, moving his hands and counting up to 200.

"I went to see him in the nursing home and I was so amazed," Ahmed said. "I was so surprised that not only that he was talking but he was talking very sensibly. He was remembering his past; he just didn't realize how long he was asleep. ... He recognized people. His comments were very interesting and people were laughing."

Ahmed had no prediction on Herbert's future.

"He may fluctuate with the time, but the way he improved and woke up, we are hoping he will progress," he said.

"He was almost like in the persistent vegetative coma state, and suddenly this thing happened," Ahmed said.

In 2003, an Arkansas man, Terry Wallis, returned to consciousness 19 years after he was injured in a car accident, stunning his mother by saying "Mom" and then asking for a Pepsi. His brain function has remained limited, his family said months later.

Tennessee police officer Gary Dockery, who was brain damaged in a 1988 shooting, began speaking to his family one day in 1996, telling jokes and recounting annual winter camping trips. But after 18 hours, he never repeated the unbridled conversation of that day, though he remained more alert than he had been. He died the following year of a blood clot on his lung.

Copyright 2005 The Asso
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