Medical staff at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston announced today that wounded East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Tullier is fully conscious and making strides in his recovery. Medical Director of the Disorders of Consciousness Program, Dr. Sunil Kothari, says they believed Tullier would be in a vegetative state when he arrived, but they quickly learned that he was in fact minimally conscious.

 “Even the minimally conscious state he may have been in when he arrived at TIRR Memorial Hermann, he emerged from fairly quickly. So at this point, we consider Nick to be fully conscious,” Kothari said.

Tullier was one of six officers who were shot in an ambush in Baton Rouge last July. Kothari says no one ever recovers completely from this kind of brain injury, and at this point Tullier’s mind and body are out of sync. Clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Katherine O’Brien says they identified several cognitive capacities Tullier can demonstrate.

“Nick can see. Nick can hear. Nick understands language. Nick knows who he is. Nick knows where he is,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien says he can also communicate with nonverbal signals and respond to commands. Physical therapist Julie Welch says Tullier has severe weakness throughout his body. But she says he spends three to four hours a day doing physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

“Nick is able to move his left hand and his arm. He’s able to move his head. He is able and has some movement in his legs as well,” Welch said.

Tullier’s father, James, celebrated the announcement with the doctors, saying Christmas has come early.