Good News after Bad News

Neurology Now
July/August 2006
Volume 2(4)
p 8
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In one horrific instant, ABC anchorman Bob Woodruff went from reporting the news to becoming the news: While covering the war in Iraq, he was severely wounded by a roadside bomb last January, sustaining head and brain injuries as well as broken bones.

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Less than five months later, he remarkably returned to ABC's New York City newsroom, surprising colleagues in June with his first visit since the ambush attack.

“I missed you all,” he told coworkers gathered around him, then alluded to his 36 days of unconsciousness following brain surgery after the blast. “I woke up in this hospital and I looked up and I just thought about you guys and I thought about everything I wanted badly to come back to. Man, it's good to be here.”

Looking fit alongside his wife, Lee, the 44-year-old father of four was welcomed back with a spontaneous round of applause and not a dry eye in the newsroom. He returned to spend two July afternoons in the newsroom after morning physical therapy sessions.

He has been undergoing therapy aimed at restoring cognitive functions, his brother David had revealed a few weeks before, calling it “exercising the brain.” Earlier reports tracked his recovery as Woodruff began walking again and speaking again (in several languages). “I am still fighting hard through the challenges that were set in front of me when that roadside bomb exploded,” he said in June. At least he hasn't experienced the kind of “alterations” that afflict many with traumatic brain injury, his brother said.

An ABC spokesman said that while Woodruff is “recovering rather miraculously” and was seen tossing a football around the newsroom, he “clearly has a long road to recovery.”

While still a long way from returning to full-time work, Woodruff contributed to a “Nightline” telecast, recording a few lines by phone as a voiceover for a July report on North Korea.

His former co-anchor on ABC's “World News Tonight,” Elizabeth Vargas, recently was quoted as saying that Woodruff sounds just like himself. “We are so lucky that he is making such a great recovery,” Vargas said, “but it is a long recovery.”

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