Western Carolina University faculty member Nancy Helm-Estabrooks was featured prominently in an ABC News special report about U.S. Rep. Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords’ recovery from a gunshot wound she suffered last January in Tucson, Ariz.
Helm-Estabrooks, professor emeritus in WCU’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, provided therapy to Giffords when the Arizona congresswoman visited Asheville recently for two weeks of intensive therapy sessions.
Six people were killed and 13 were wounded, including Giffords, when a gunman went on a rampage at a political event. Experts have said Giffords suffered an injury to her brain that is fatal 88 percent of the time.
The ABC News report aired Monday night (Nov. 14) and was hosted by the network’s Diane Sawyer. During the report, Sawyer referred to Helm-Estabrooks as “one of the country’s most respected specialists in brain injury.” In a segment of the program focusing on whether or not Giffords will be able to return to Congress, Helm-Estabrooks said, “I have great faith that she’ll make a sound decision for her. What I’m saying is, if Gabby thinks she can go back to Congress, she can.”
Helm-Estabrooks joined the WCU faculty in May 2009 and served as the university’s first Catherine Brewer Smith Distinguished Professor of Communication Disorders before assuming her current position. She previously had been working as a research professor in the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Prior to moving to North Carolina in 2004, Helm-Estabrooks was associated with the world-renowned Harold Goodglass Aphasia Research Center at the Boston University School of Medicine for more than 30 years. She is the author of seven books, including the Manual of Aphasia and Aphasia Therapy.”
“Our students and faculty have benefited tremendously from Dr. Helm-Estabrooks’ presence at WCU,” said Bill Ogletree, head of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. “I can certainly understand Commander Mark Kelly (Giffords’ husband) and Representative Giffords choosing to work with Nancy. In a similar circumstance, I would have made the same choice.”Read the full article