Sharing hope: ABC’s Bob Woodruff on Gabrielle Giffords and recovery from traumatic brain injury

Posted on 10 Jan 2011 at 11:15am

In 2006, ABC news reporter Bob Woodruff was on the ground covering the war in Iraq when a roadside bomb detonated near the vehicle in which he was traveling. The shockwave drove rock and shrapnel into his helmet, literally rattling his brain inside his skull.

Woodruff awoke more than a month later, only to begin a long road to recovery. His journey is one that is shared by an estimated 80,000 to 90,000 Americans each year who suffer traumatic brain injury, or TBI.

It was a long road to recovery for Woodruff, who is now back on the job and has actually returned to Iraq to meet with those who saved his life. He discussed some of the similar circumstances involved in his recovery to the road Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is now traveling.

It is hard to remember how I felt at that very moment when my life changed in an instant. Although I had covered wars for years as a journalist I never really thought about death, let alone traumatic brain injuries.

I didn’t know Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords but my assumption is she never imagined that a gunshot would put her where she is either.

Like the doctors who saved me almost five years ago, her surgeons knew exactly what to do. Her brain was swelling just like mine. They removed part of her skull on the left side of her head almost exactly like mine, and she is now in a drug-induced coma so that her brain can recover. For me it was 36 days before I woke up.

But in one way her case is more hopeful. She responded to verbal commands by the doctors and reacted by squeezing their finger, indicating she understood, although she could not speak. I never heard the words and never squeezed my doctors’ fingers when they tried to get me to respond.

So now Ms. Giffords’ family and friends are on the long or short road. When she awakes, which I believe will happen, we will know about her future. No one really knows right now how long that road will be.

Here is an interview with Woodruff:


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