Brian Arterburn, the Wichita police officer who suffered a traumatic brain injury while on duty, can now talk and is beginning to walk on his own, according to a family spokesman.
Arterburn still has memory loss, but he is beginning to ask questions about Feb. 7, the day he was run over by a motorist who was driving a stolen car and trying to flee police.
The update was issued late Saturday in a release by David Nienstedt, a spokesman for the family.
He said Arterburn is beginning to talk about friends, family and co-workers a lot and is overwhelmed by the amount of support shown by the community through fundraisers, yard signs, prayers and cards.
Arterburn remains hospitalized at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., and has a long recovery ahead, the statement said.
Nienstedt provided the following details about Arterburn.
Feb. 14 – Arterburn underwent a craniectomy, a surgery to relieve the pressure due to brain swelling. That surgery saved his life.
Aprl 7 – He had a crainoplasty in Denver to replace a portion of the skull removed from the first surgery. A 3-D printer was used to replicate the shape of the skull and create a prosthetic, which is usually made of titanium or a synthetic bone substitute.
April 13 – Arterburn underwent surgery again to replace the prosthetic after his brain began to bleed. “There were some concerns with undergoing 3 major brain surgeries in 8 weeks,” the statement said, noting that doctors expected it to delay his recovery.
Arterburn “has made incredible progress” and is “talking quite well,” according to the statement. A week after his second surgery, Arterburn was able to walk 45 feet in one session using parallel bars, Nienstedt said.
But his health is still a major concern. The police officer has lost a great deal of weight, and some of his muscles have atrophied from not being able to eat solid foods and from lying in a hospital bed for so many weeks.
He is now able to walk short distances without a walker, holding the therapist’s hand for balance.
In addition, Arterburn had a liver transplant two years ago, which saved his life at the time. But doctors are now concerned about fluctuating liver enzyme levels.
Doctors have been testing to determine the reason for the fluctuating liver levels and are hopeful adjustments in medication will help that.
“The family would appreciate additional prayers for the situation with Brian’s liver to resolve itself,” the statement said.
“Brian, his wife Claudale, and the whole family appreciate the thoughts, concerns and prayers from everyone, but especially the strong support from our local community.”