(Bay City News Service) For the first time since he was attacked after a baseball game in Los Angeles in March, San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow on Friday felt the sun's warmth on his face, and called the experience "magical," his family said.
Stow suffered brain damage in the attack outside Dodger Stadium on March 31, and after months of setbacks in his recovery, he showed signs of progress last week when he began regularly communicating through facial expressions and bits of conservation.
Stow has been speaking a few words at a time with family members and his physical therapists since Wednesday, although he has yet to progress to full conversations, his family said on a website they created to chronicle his progress.
"On Friday Bryan said something that perfectly fit the moment, and really describes these past few days," his family wrote. "Bonnie asked Bryan how it felt to be outside. Bryan, sitting in the sun, with his eyes closed said, 'It's magical.'"
His family said Monday that Stow "is more responsive and getting stronger," and will begin having sessions with his physical and occupational therapists five days a week.
In August, Stow, a 42-year-old Santa Cruz man who worked as a paramedic in the South Bay before the attack, battled infections related to surgery to replace a missing part of his skull with a bone flap.
Swelling in Stow's brain had prompted Los Angeles doctors to remove a portion of his skull to relieve pressure on his brain. Doctors at San Francisco General Hospital said the procedure saved Stow's life, but that replacing the missing skull fragment has proved challenging.
Doctors have had to attempt that surgery several times in recent months because of complications. Doctors performed the most recent surgery to insert the bone flap on Aug. 10, and the infections had prevented doctors from performing additional necessary procedures, according to his family.
Two weeks ago, Stow's condition had improved enough to allow doctors to insert a shunt to divert fluid from his brain. Stow has since made facial expressions -- often blinking on command to answer questions -- and began talking on Wednesday, his family said.
Dr. Geoff Manley, chief of neurosurgery at San Francisco General Hospital, said Thursday that doctors are "encouraged" by Stow's progressive neurological improvement but that he remains in serious condition.
Stow was attacked as he left Dodger Stadium on March 31 by two suspects who first taunted him and then hit him from behind.
Two men have been charged with Stow's beating -- Louie Sanchez, 29, and Marivin Norwood, 30 -- and pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles County Superior Court last month to mayhem and assault charges. Sanchez and Norwood are scheduled to appear in court Sept. 30 for a preliminary hearing.