ABC's Bob Woodruff recounts his recovery from brain trauma

(Photo: ABC)

Bob Woodruff was at the top of his game in 2006. He was co-anchoring World News Tonight with Elizabeth Vargas and covering the world.

But then, in January of 2006, embedded with troops in Iraq, tragedy struck. He was hit by an improvised explosive device while on top of a tank. A large portion of his brain was wounded in the blast.

His recovery, like Gabrielle Giffords, defied expectations.

but back in the chair at ABC News last January, Woodruff knew firsthand what Giffords would face. There is the joy of survival but also the intense physical pain and grueling therapy. Plus, his candid admission of what happens even when you are grateful to be alive.

"You go through something like this, where your life is completely changed - and the life that you loved so much - and suddenly it's on a different path,” he says. “You know she's going to feel some depression."

For weeks, as Woodruff lay in a coma, doctors could get no response. Then one day, something happened. His then 12-year-old daughter Catherine got a response.

“Lee was outside the room and the doctor and the nurse called her in and said 'look!'” Woodruff says. “And there was a tear coming down my eye.”

But Woodruff warns the road ahead is tough for family members, noting divorce is common after brain trauma.

When they met, Woodruff told Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly that bond of love and family can be the best medicine of all.

“I said to him 'you are there - and that's going to be the key,’” he says.