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Nation IN BRIEF : TENNESSEE : Brain-Injured Officer May Speak Again

February 20, 1996|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

The severely brain-damaged policeman who astonished doctors and family by talking for the first time in 7 1/2 years may speak again, although why is a mystery. "I have honest hopes he may speak again," neurologist Bruce Kaplan said in Chattanooga, Tenn. Gary Dockery, 42, was shot in the head in 1988. Since then, he has occasionally communicated by blinking his eyes or nodding his head, primarily to his family. Dockery amazed family and doctors by suddenly speaking coherently over an 18-hour period Feb. 12, a day after he was hospitalized for life-threatening pneumonia. Since surgery to remove fluid from his lungs, he has communicated by opening and moving his eyes, squeezing hands, nodding to answer questions and moving his leg and arm upon command. Kaplan said he was "convinced his level of comprehension of what was being said to him was real."

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