tv Nightline ABC November 14, 2011 11:35pm-12:00am EST
medical miracle. an incredible look inside gabby giffords' battle to come back from being shot point-blank in the head. her doctors and therapists tell us exclusively how this medical miracle happened. beautiful mind. moving home video captures giffords' agonizing struggle to find her voice. >> watch me, gabby. >> and abc's bob woodruff, himself recovering from a traumatic head injury, what their stories tell us about the resilience of the human brain. courage and hope. >> how do you feel? >> pretty good. >> good. >> abc's diane sawyer join us us to talk about what giffords' comeback can teach us about to talk about what giffords' comeback can teach us about determination and healing. captions paid for by abc, inc.
good evening. i'm terry moran, welcome to a special edition of "nightline." tonight we'll take you deeper into the amazing and inspirational recovery of congresswoman gabrielle giffords, shot point-blank in the head in arizona. to do that, diane sawyer's moving "20/20" special aired earlier tonight and bob woodruff who brings a special experience to this your injury, serious brain injury in 2006. diane i want to say watching and listening to gabby giffords today, it is inspirational. >> it's life-affirming in some way, isn't it? they never would allow themselves to doubt except alone at night at the end of the day that she wouldn't somehow struggle her way back to the surface. >> and she has. bob, you have, too and such, so wonderful for us to have witnessed this. what's it like to have experienced that?
>> your reaction at first is wow, i'm alive. i can't believe i'm alive. i'm sure that's what happened with gabby. and suddenly you realize as time goes along this is going to take a lot longer than you ever thought. >> we'll draw on your experience as bob takes usto the significance to this steepness of the challenge that gabby giffords faced. the events of that horrible morning in tucson are by now burned into our memories. >> we are following a developing story and comes to us out of tucson. >> of arizona, was shot outside-zblsh gabby giffords, energetic, ever-optimistic congresswoman, clinging to life, shot in the head at close range. as they write in the new memory, "gabby: a story of courage and hope," all that followed in the chaotic moments not only saved her life but helped limit the brain damage, giving her the best chance possible of
recovery. >> everything want as good as it possibly kro have to get her to this situation she's in right now. >> reporter: the bullet had pierced gabby's skull, causing serious damage to the left side of her brain. it was a miracle she survived but no one could be sure if she'd ever walk or talk again. >> you know, the recovery from these kind of injuries isn't measured in days and weeks, more like weeks and months. >> the main artery going through baghdad. >> reporter: a road i've been down myself after a trau matdic brain injury in 2006. >> this is one of the -- >> reporter: while reporting in iraq i was hit by the ferocious force of an ied. when i woke up, 36 days later, bethesda naval hospital my speech was scrambled and confused. >> we woke up after 33 years? >> days. days ago. >> the doctors gave her the okay
to move from the icu unit. >> reporter: so as gabby giffords began her long journey back, i knew very well the challenges that lay before her. >> this is your room. you got here yesterday. >> reporter: gabby's husband, astronaut mark kelly made a decision early on to videotape her recovery. >> be able to see how well you are doing. you look great. just got a little work to do here. >> reporter: in the beginning there were no words at all. >> can you smile, sweetie? that's not a smile. that's better. >> reporter: encouraging signs that the old gabby was still in there, struggling to break free. her husband assumes the role of motivator in chief. >> here are the tennis shoes, you'll be jumping out of bed, running around the hallways. >> reporter: there is no scientific measure for the value of family but i know how importants to the have them
around. it gave me something to strive for. >> even when the doctors were telling me something different i would look at them and say you don't know my husband, you don't know my bob. he's a fighter. >> reporter: so much about the brain remains a mystery. since gabby was shot i've interviewed doctors, scientists, therapists, trying to learn more about her recovery. so her come pprehensive abiliti are fine? >> i think normal. >> reporter: the footage mark shared with us offers an extraordinary inside look at the struggle as gabby tries to deal with her condition. it is called expressive aphasia which in very simple terms means she knows the words she wants to say but has difficulty getting them out. >> it's not the language that is lost. your ideas are there, you're not available to verbalize. >> her doctors say the bullet damaged the left side of her brain where speech is produced, further back the comprehension
area is relatively unharmed but the signals between the two are disrupted by the injury. >> it's a -- watch. >> when the first words finally come for gabby, they are often wrong. >> you sit in-watch me, gabby. >> spoon. >> reporter: frequently repeated. >> what kind of flower is this? >> chicken. >> reporter: gabby was stuck inexpolitin inex-politicably on the word chicken for days. why do you remember some words and not others with this kind of injury? >> really, big part of the history of neuroscience is learning from patients with brain injury. >> gabby do the words just sometimes come out? you can't control it? >> yes, yes, yes, yes. >> can i promise you something? >> yes. >> it will get better. >> reporter: as you'll see when
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"gabby and mark: courage and hope," continues. >> watch. >> tell time with a -- >> watch. >> reporter: welcome back to a special edition of "nightline" taking us deeper into the remarkable inspirational recovery of congresswoman gabrielle giffords. diane sawyer, bob woodruff, we saw her to struggle to find the
words as she progresses, something you went through. >> show terry what you were showing me. >> this is a perfect example of same thing i felt. gave her a picture of a motorcyclist, the words she said were medical and scary. and if you take all of the letters of medical and scary, they're basically letters that exist in the word motorcyclist. it's got the sounds of that. medical, cycle. got that in there. and same the order of the letters. so, she hears the sound and she's putting them, stacking them back into the word. >> wonderful image in the book that it's as if the words have been blown part by a hurricane in your brain and that you're trying to retrieve parts of them anne get them and may not be in the right order and you may have to, may have another word that's inserted in the middle of them somehow. >> like your office windows are
shattered and files in the cabinet fly in the street. you get some and put them back in, some work others blow in and go right back in the cabinet because the brain comes together over time. >> work. it takes work. >> willpower. >> it does. >> a miracle as awe say and a struggle and sometimes, in bob's case i'm sure and as we'll see up next in gabby giffords' case, the scientists, the doctors, learn from the patients. >> you can try and tell mark, i love you. >> one month after the shooting, gabby giffords was in the hospital in houston, settling in for the long haul. >> i love -- >> you. >> good. >> i can tell you that rebuilding speech after an injury to the left side of the brain is exhausting, often agonizing work. >> before the shooting, she was a dynamic, engaging speaker.
>> libertarians and vegetarians -- >> a fullbright scholar fluent in spanish. >> good morning everyone. >> now in those early therapy sessions in houston -- >> you turn on the -- l -- >> it seemed as though words had abandoned her. >> try this one. turn on the -- >> reporter: for those of us injured on the left side of the brain our loss of words can make us feel trapped inside our own minds. >> gabby, are you frustrated? can i tell you something? it is going to get better. okay? it's frustrating right now but it is going to get better. you have come a long way in five weeks. you've come a long way. >> reporter: and then, in this emotionally charged moment, to our absolute amazement, we heard this. >> you're going do this. are you ready?
♪ this little light of mine ♪ i'm gonna let it shine >> reporter: remember, at this point, she couldn't say the word light, suddenly there she was, singing that word and a whole lot more. ♪ i'm gonna let it shine ♪ let it shine ♪ let it shine . excellent. >> ♪ good morning gabby >> megan morrow is gabby's music therapist. >> why is it someone who can't speak can sing? >> because music is accessed in many different areas of the brain that aren't designate ford language. ♪ i'm free ♪ free fallin' let me hear you. >> retrieving pitch, melody, rhythm, through all these different areas and those are working to get your language back.
♪ free >> yeah. >> reporter: remember we told you that language is normally held in the left hemisphere of the brain. music exists in both hemispheres, incredibly, scientists are finding that music therapy has the potential to rebuild language on the uninjured right side. >> nothing activates the brain so extensively as music and really only been in the last five years that brain imagery, which showed it had been possible to create a new language area in the right h hemisphe hemisphere, that blew my mind. one would have said that's just a fantasy. >> reminds me of being stuck in trafshg traffic on the freeway. you aren't able go forward on that pathway any more but you can exit and go around and get where you need go. ♪ girls they wanna have fun ♪ girls just wanna have
>> reporter: in therapy phrases are combined with music. ♪ i am ♪ i am fine >> reporter: then gradually the music fades away and the words and stand on their own. >> so, what are you going to tell me? ♪ give me a kiss >> right now. >> reporter: when the special edition of "nightline" continues, prepare to witness her triumph. >> walking is easier all of the time, you're stronger? >> strong, strong, strong, strong. ugh, my sinus congestion,
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edition of "nightline" on the recovery of gabby giffords. diane sawyer, bob woodruff. the question as we have seen her come this far, how far can she come? >> i mean, there is always this old thought that the improvement all happens with in the first yeyear or two years. >> right. >> absolutely wrong. >> it continues to go, if you spoke to me last year, you see a different way than compared to now. we'll see the same thing with gabby. next year for sure a huge change, every year after that for the next 20 years is my prediction. >> i went to meet her two weeks before the interview, when i came back for the interview i couldn't believe the progress. i'm told by the therapist who works with her all of the time, send the word to me since i last saw her, i should only come back and see what she is doing now. >> that fast. >> that's how fast it's going and demonstrable it is.
>> she can remember the lyrics of a song where she want remember the same words in a regular sentence without the music attached to it. with me it's different both sides were damaged because i was shaken around, i lost my ability to remember lyrics of songs. >> but you continue to improve. >> yes, but my singing is terrible. >> i won't ask you to demonstrate. focus on the future then, let's look at where gabby giffords is now in this remarkable recovery. >> hello. >> hello, hello. >> ten months have passed since the shooting that changed everything for gabby giffords. she's left the hospitals where she lived for five months. >> how do you feel? >> pretty good. >> pretty good. >> her rehab continues. now seeing therapists a couple of hours a day. >> on the lights. turn on the light. >> reporter: at home a new normal life, in my opinion, the best form of rehab. so great to be home!
today, gabby's venturing out to restaurants, even ordering in french. she is planning for the future. >> i like traveling to africa. >> reporter: i know she will continue to get better for years to come but i alwaso know her le will never be the same. >> everything do i reminds me of that horrible day. >> reporter: when he started writing their book, "gabby: a story of courage and hope," they set a goal to have her write the final chapter and read it aloud for the audio book. >> hope and faith. you have to have hope and faith. >> reporter: so, if you like to know what the future holds, we think it's best you hear it straight from her. >> trying so hard to get better. trying to get back to work.
i will get stronger. i will return. ♪ thinking about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow ♪ ♪ there is none ♪ tomorrow, tomorrow, i love ya tomorrow ♪ ♪ always a day away >> what an incredible journey it is. diane sawyer, bob woodruff thank you for being here with us tonight. we want to let you know that the book, "gabby: a story of courage and hope," comes out tomorrow. join us for "good morning america," we'll be joined live by gabby's husband mark kelly. thanks for joining us. "jimmy kimmel" is up next. see you tomorrow.
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