Bob Woodruff After Traumatic Brain Injury
ABC News journalist Bob Woodruff talks about his recovery from a traumatic brain injury he received in Iraq.
Road to Recovery continued...
After that came multiple surgeries -- about nine, Woodruff estimates. His operations included the removal of part of his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain. Before going to Iraq, "I never had surgery other than dental surgery and a lot of stitches as a result of being raised with brothers," he tells WebMD.
Woodruff’s physical skills came back relatively quickly, but it took an intense cognitive rehabilitation program to regain some of the skills he had lost and relearn everything -- including the names of his then 5-year-old twins. "It took long-term rehabilitation to be able to live again and be back in their lives," Woodruff says.
Woodruff also suffered from aphasia, the inability to find words. Aphasia is caused by damage to one or more brain areas that handle language. "I couldn’t come up with words and I didn’t have a lot of synonyms," he says. "It was hugely frustrating."
The effects of his injury are still apparent. Woodruff occasionally has difficulty finding words or synonyms. He is blind in the upper quarter of both of eyes, and he has lost 30% of his hearing in one ear and 10% in the other ear.
Despite his injuries, Woodruff counts his blessings. The rocks narrowly missed the major arteries in his neck. "I am hugely lucky," he says.
The near-death experience has given Woodruff a new perspective. "I have realized how short of a time we all have on this earth," he says.
His daughter put it best when she told her mother, "Daddy has so many scars on his back and rocks in his face, and daddy doesn’t have words ... but I think he loves me more than he did before," he recalls her saying.
Woodruff credits much of his recovery to love and support of his family and friends, which he and his wife wrote about in their book, In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing.
"I don’t know what would have happened to me without my friends and family," Woodruff says.