Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was beaten outside Dodger Stadium on Opening Day, is breathing without a mechanical ventilator, can follow some basic commands and has been upgraded from critical to serious condition, his doctor said Wednesday.
While detailing Stow's progress, Dr. Geoff Manley, chief of neurosurgery at San Francisco General Hospital, cautioned that Stow is "far from out of the woods" nearly three months after the 42-year-old paramedic from Santa Cruz suffered a traumatic brain injury.
"It is a long road to recovery from where we are," Manley said. "I just want to basically try to level everyone's expectations here. We still do not know where he will plateau in terms of his long-term recovery."
Stow is now breathing with the help of a tracheostomy collar. He has moved his left arm on his own and has opened his eyes on command, the doctor said, suggesting that "some circuits are reconnecting."
Stow has also been weaned off two of the five antiseizure medications he was given when he was initially treated at a Los Angeles hospital, where his seizures were "almost uncontrollable," Manley said.
But Stow remains under acute care as doctors continue to reduce the medications and watch for complications such as infections. Like Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., after she was shot in January, Stow had a flap of bone removed from his skull that will need to be replaced with a custom prosthetic.
"For brain-injured patients, recovery takes months and years, not days and weeks," Manley said. "We remain optimistic, but we must be extremely cautious about interpreting his progress."
Stow was kicked and beaten outside Dodger Stadium after a game between the Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers on March 31. Police investigators' prime suspect in the attack, 31-year-old Giovanni Ramirez, was given 10 months in prison Monday after his state parole was revoked for alleged gun possession. He has not been charged in connection with Stow's beating.
Police are still looking for two suspects in the attack - a man believed to have joined in kicking and punching Stow, and a woman who drove the assailants from the Dodger Stadium parking lot.
In a statement released Wednesday, Stow's family said they were "grateful for the public's continued concern and support. We are encouraged by Bryan's improvement."