Paul has had a great last few days. His command following has improved and he seems to much more aware of those around him, smiling, and giving high fives and thumbs up. We are also learning more about the some of the effects of a traumatic brain injury.
The doctors have determined that Paul suffers from a condition called apraxia, which is the inability to perform intentional movements although there is no sensory or motor impairment. For example, Paul has the strength and coordination to do certain tasks and seems to know what he wants to do but his brain cannot always make his body do what is necessary to complete the tasks.
He also has apraxia of speech, an impairment caused by damage to the area of the brain that controls the voluntary, exact movement of speech muscles. Basically, this means that he can say a few words (and actually has) but can say them when he is uncomfortable or in distress. It is much more difficult for him to speak when he is really concentrating and trying. However, the speech therapist continues to work with him and focus on ways he can again begin to control his speech.
I say that he has said a few words but I would not say that he is talking. It is great to hear his voice, even though it has been single words, such as "yes" "no" and "dammit" (once when he was really frustrated). The best word he has said yet though is "Buzz," which he said when Buzz was visiting the hospital and on the floor coloring. Paul was watching him, said Buzz's name, and then reached out his hand toward Buzz. He kissed Buzz's hand, hugged him, and stroked his hair. It was a wonderful moment for all of us. Even the nurse, who walked in around that time, got teary eyed.
You probably are wondering if Paul's current actions mean that he is officially "awake" now. He is not. There are several ways that the doctors determine this and all involve different phases or stages, which Paul is slowly working his way through. His actions these past few days are very encouraging and positive though and we can definitely say he more wakeful if not awake.
One thing that the doctors and nurses have stressed is that too much excitement or noise can agitate Paul. So, please keep visits to about 15 minutes or so.
Thank you again for your support.