Woodruff's Recovery Has Bowling Green Ties

By: Courtney Lassiter
By: Courtney Lassiter

ABC News anchorman, Bob Woodruff talks for the first time since the attack in Iraq that injured Woodruff and his cameraman, Doug Vogt.

Last January, Woodruff and camera man Doug Vogt were traveling with U.S. military when they were hit with an improvised explosive device. Woodruff was in a coma for more than a month and Vogt was less severely injured.

It's been a lengthy road to recovery with both long and short term brain injuries for Woodruff.He spent several days in rehabilitation learning how to speak, eat and walk.

One of the exercises that helped his recovery was designed right here in Bowling Green.

The director of the Acquired Brain Injury Resource Program at WKU published these flash cards.

There are simple pictures on them and with repetition Woodruff was finally able to distinguish everyday objects like mirror and scissors.

The Brain Injury Center is helping locals too.

"After I woke up I was in a different planet for a couple months," Neal Blake said.

It's been nearly two years since Blake was thrown from his vehicle during a crash.

"At first I would repeat myself and not know I had just said what I said. I don't do that anymore," Blake said.

Neal was in a coma for a week and has suffered both mental and physical injuries. In our interview, Neal struggled to find the words to describe his thoughts.

"I just forgot what I was saying; that's a perfect example," Blake said.

Neal is undergoing treatment at The Acquired Brain Injury Resource Program at Western Kentucky University because he wants to go back to school.

"We have them practice taking notes and recall what information they take and repeating that information to them," Doctor Robert Dressler explained.

"We'll watch newscasts and ask what was talked about," Dr. Dressler said.

Dressler also said the healing process takes a long time in even milder cases can last a lifetime.

In Dressler's experience he said proper nouns are the hardest for brain injury patients to remember.

When we asked Neal what his hardest thing to remember, he again, struggled to find the words.

"What am I trying to say," Blake said.

Brain injury affects more Americans than reported.

In fact Dressler calls it "the silent epidemic."

"People talk normal and look normal but you don't even know there suffering from it until they don't remember anything out of their short term memory," Dr. Dressler said.

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