Locked-In Syndrome

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Following drowning, resuscitation and brain injury due to lack of oxygen, a child is completely paralyzed, but aware of his surroundings. Now groundbreaking research may unlock the treatment these kids need for improved quality of life. 

Conrad Tullis was a healthy, happy baby, until he was 17 months old, fell into a pool and drowned 13 years ago. Doctors resuscitated him, but a stroke left Conrad with massive brain damage.  

Liz Tullis, Conrad's mother says, "You know an infant needs maximum assist for everything, you know, their eating, their movement from one place to another. But these kids grow and they're cognitively aware."

Liz established the 'Conrad Smiles Fund,' recruiting parents and researchers, who also believed their kids had potential. 

Dr. Peter Fox, Director of Research Imaging, UT Health San Antonio says, "70-percent of families that participated in the study indicated that in the acute setting when the child was first admitted in the hospital, the recommendation they were given by their neurologist was to withdraw care, because their child would never recover in any meaningful way." 

But, some kids did get better! Listened to music, recognized friends, even communicated. 

Dr. Fox says, "They answer by eye blink, they can spell things out by eye movement control on a computer." 

Liz says, "To me, what's so important about this research is now we have the science behind us. You know so it's exciting cause now we're building from what we knew and what we developed. If we can make something better out of this for other people, that's something that's so satisfying."

By the way, the reason the fund is called Conrad Smiles, is because doctors told Liz and her husband that Conrad would never smile again. 
 


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