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Bob Woodruff After Traumatic Brain Injury

ABC News journalist Bob Woodruff talks about his recovery from a traumatic brain injury he received in Iraq.

Woodruff’s Journey

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.

Paying it Forward

Today, Woodruff is an advocate for soldiers who have sustained traumatic brain injuries - the signature injury of the Iraq war. He started the Bob Woodruff Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission of providing resources and support for injured service members, veterans, and their families.

It is estimated that more than 320,000 U.S. service members have sustained traumatic brain injuries, according to the Foundation's web site.

Soldiers’ bodies are often better protected than in bygone wars. Their protective gear may save their lives, but it doesn't rule out brain damage, as Woodruff knows firsthand. "If this was five years earlier, I would be dead," he says.

The effects of traumatic brain injuries can linger. Soldiers and other people who sustain traumatic brain injury are more likely to experience emotional issues, including posttraumatic stress disorder, divorce, homelessness, seizures, and vision and hearing loss.

"Traumatic brain injuries have never gotten this much attention," Woodruff says. And he has a message for people with traumatic brain injuries: "There is hope and there is recovery."

Reviewed on October 12, 2009

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