East Baton Rouge Deputy Nick Tullier has found his voice.
Deputy Tullier, who became known around the country as one of six officers injured during an ambush shooting on July 17, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La., is “doing remarkably well” according to his care team and father during a press conference on Wednesday, December 15 at TIRR Memorial Hermann.
“Nick’s recovery has been surprising,” said Sunil Kothari, MD, medical director of the Disorders of Consciousness (DOC) Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann and assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) at Baylor College of Medicine. “There is no question Nick is conscious and aware of what’s going on around him. He can communicate by nodding forward for ‘yes’ and turning to the right for ‘no.’ While it’s still very early in this phase of Nick’s rehabilitation I’d say he’s much further along than we would have expected based on what we knew before his arrival.”
When Deputy Tullier arrived in Houston on November 16, TIRR Memorial Hermann’s DOC team went to work to determine his level of consciousness, as well as the best course for rehabilitation.
“We arrived at 11 a.m. that Wednesday, and by that afternoon, the team was already evaluating him and beginning his therapy,” said James Tullier, Deputy Tullier’s father.
During the press conference, which also included Katherine O’Brien, PhD, clinical neuropsychologist at TIRR Memorial Hermann and clinical assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) at Baylor College of Medicine and Julie Welch, PT, MS, NCS, rehabilitation manager for the brain injury and stroke programs at TIRR Memorial Hermann, the team described the DOC program and Nick’s progress in detail.
“The pace at which Nick is recovering is incredible and aided by the great support of his family. They are active participants in his therapy and always make sure that Nick is ready to go first thing each morning,” said Dr. O’Brien. “Nick can see. Nick can hear. Nick is aware of his environment. Nick understands language. Nick knows where he is and who he is. Nick can identify his family. Nick can communicate with a non-verbal yes/no system. Nick can read and can follow commands. He is truly exceeding expectations.”
The DOC Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann is one of only a handful of programs of its kind in the United States. Most patients entering the DOC Program are in a vegetative or minimally conscious state. While these patients typically aren’t ready to participate in traditional rehabilitation, Dr. Kothari and his team believe these patients can significantly benefit from the therapies and techniques applied by the DOC team.
On most days Nick will spend up to four hours in therapy. Currently Nick is receiving speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and neurologic music therapy.
“We consulted with some of the best doctors in the country including the personal physicians of President (Barack) Obama and Vice President (Joe) Biden,” said James Tullier. “We landed on TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston because we’d heard from many that it’s the place where miracles happen. We’re grateful to the doctors in Louisiana who saved Nick’s life. TIRR Memorial Hermann is working to give Nick his life back.”
To learn more about the Disorders of Consciousness Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann, call 1-800-44REHAB (73422) or 713-797-5942.