S.A. boy's scans could help others

Research study focusing on brain injuries

SAN ANTONIO - In the dark of night, 10-year-old Conrad Tullis is a testament to a mother's love and her ability to keep pushing.


Near drowning is the number one cause of injury deaths for children ages one to four.

Conrad Tullis nearly drowned in his grandparents pool on Jan. 3, 2004. His brain was severely damaged, but how severe was never clear -- until now.

"Throughout the whole course of Conrad’s recovery it's been about, you know, information. ...All we've been asking for is help us, help us understand what's going on," said Liz Tullis, Conrad’s Mother.

In a Magentic Resonance Imaging Lab, Liz Tullis is moving into new territory in her son's recovery, and hopefully thousands of brain injured kids like him.

"None of us would have chosen this path, but if we can pave it a little bit, and to me any kind of data that we can get about what's going on in our children’s brains, is kind of like, covering up some of these potholes," said Tullis.

At just 17-months-old, Conrad was walking and talking. Then, when his parents were on a vacation, Conrad fell into his grandparent’s pool. Since then, Liz has tried numerous ways to help, heal and communicate with Conrad.

"There's too many coincidences where we're talking about something and he makes a sound, or has a gesture, a look, so you have to believe he understands everything we've been doing," said Liz Tullis.

"How much he understands of what's going on is not so clear, probably it's not very complex, but he definitely interacts with his environment," said Dr. Peter Fox, a researcher at the U.T. Health Science Center in San Antonio.

A grant from the Kronkosky Foundation allowed Dr. Fox and researchers at the UT Health Science Center to run these unique brain scans. The hope is these resting state MRI’s will offer a roadmap to Conrad’s brain.

"We want to know which circuits are working, what's he using," said Dr. Fox

"We still have a lot of work to do, and so I don't have unrealistic expectations that tonight they're going to be able to sit down and tell me everything I need to know about Conrad’s brain," said Tullis.

Conrad’s scans are being analyzed, but Dr. Fox is very happy with how they turned out. Now they need more people to take part in this research.

If you know someone who survived a near drowning, they are desperately needed. You can contact the U.T. Health Science Center Research Team at manningj@uthscsa.edu. You can also find more information on ConradSmiles.com.

For a list of recent stories Steve Spriester has done, click here.



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