Tag Archives: Traumatic Brain Injury

Lost in a moment: A traumatic brain injury on the job in Iraq turned journalist Bob Woodruff into an advocate for veterans experiencing homelessness

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff explains the Viper fiber communications terminal to ABC’s Bob Woodruff onboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 en route to Afghanistan, July 14, 2009. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley. Cleared for release by the Joint Staff Public Affairs

by Rosette Royale, Contributing Writer

In 2006, journalist Bob Woodruff went to cover the war in Iraq. But when he suffered a brain injury caused by an IED, he became part of a different story.

The Marines knew Taji, Iraq, was a bad area. The city, roughly 12 miles north of Baghdad, housed lots of insurgents. But the information didn’t stop the military convoy that rolled through the city on Jan. 29, 2006.

Standing up in the back hatch of a light-armored tank, the lead vehicle in the convoy, TV journalist Bob Woodruff prepared to tape a segment for ABC. He and his cameraman wore body armor and protective helmets. Without warning, an improvised explosive device blew up near the tank.

There was a BANG. Everything shook. Then it all came to a standstill. And Woodruff, who had succeeded Peter Jennings as ABC World News Tonight co-host only weeks before, fell over in the tank.

Shrapnel tore a hole in Woodruff’s neck. Another piece sliced into the left hemisphere of his brain. Convulsions shook his body. Trying to stanch the flow of blood, a soldier pressed his hand over Woodruff’s neck. “Come back!” the Marines yelled at him. “Come back!”

Indeed, for a brief moment, Woodruff came back and opened his eyes. He asked a question. Then he slipped back into unconsciousness.

He and the cameraman underwent emergency surgery in a U.S. Air Force hospital near Balad, Iraq. From there, both were airlifted to a hospital in Germany. In serious condition, Woodruff was flown to the Bethesda Naval Hospital, where he stayed in a medically induced coma for more than a month. Finally awake, he required months of therapy for brain-related trauma. (The cameraman fully recovered.) Continue reading

Editorial: TBI research another tool in addressing homelessness

In this edition, we run our second of three installments on traumatic brian injury, or TBI. In the first installment (All in their heads, May 27) Street Roots ran an in-depth feature piece introducing the subject, and Nick Patton, a formerly homeless Portlander who was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia for seven years when he was really having seizures from TBI that happened earlier in his life.

On page 3 of this edition we highlight why diagnosing TBI on the streets matters, in more ways than one. We introduce another individual affected by TBI, Jamie Smith, a veteran who lost his job, ran out of money, and eventually became homeless. Six years later he has finally won his Social Security Disability claim with the help of a local non-profit, Central City Concern, and the law firm Swanson, Thomas and Coon. Continue reading

All in their head: Traumatic brain injuries often go undiagnosed, especially on the streets

By Kate Cox, Contributing Writer

Readers note: This article is the first part in an investigative series by Street Roots on Traumatic Brain Injury and homelessness. Pick up the June 10, edition for the next in-depth article on the topic. Read Part II here.

You might say Nick Patton was born to fish.

Literally born on a boat, Nick spent his earliest years living in orphanages along the Alaskan coastline.  He ran away at the age of eight and quickly learned how to take care of himself and to rely on others — traveling in groups around the Pacific Northwest, picking apples and doing day labor.

He was only 11 years old when he started working the boats and canneries of the Alaskan fishing industry. With a community of other fisherman, Nick followed the seasonal work, living on boats and in tents, even during the cold Anchorage winters.

It all ended with the smack of a crowbar. Continue reading