SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (KOIN) — The same day doctors praised UCC shooting victim Julie Woodworth’s progress, her boyfriend told KOIN 6 News he’s emotional, but hopeful.
At PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, Dr. Travis Littman said he’s seen encouraging signs from Woodworth.
But she still has a long road to recovery.
Dr. Littman estimates Woodworth was shot 5 times when a gunman opened fire in her classroom last Thursday.
She was shot in the back of the head, with the bullet exiting through the front. She was shot in each leg and each arm, resulting in 2 broken arms.
But doctors are very pleased with the progress Woodworth has made. She was extubated Wednesday, meaning her breathing tube was removed. Neurosurgeon Dr. Neil Roundy said she is breathing on her own. She is awake, she moves her eyes spontaneously and can move her arms.
“She has made a really incredible recovery,” Roundy said.
Woodworth’s boyfriend spent part of the day Thursday visiting with her in the hospital.
“We just locked eyes and I just kept talking to her and kept telling her, ‘you’re just going to be amazing when you get out of here and see half the world standing with you,'” Tyler Clark said.
Clark recalled standing over his girlfriend, looking into her eyes and speaking to her as he watched a tear come out of her eye.
“I can’t tell if she can understand, you know, if I’m getting through to her,” he said. “But I’d like to think I am, it felt like I was.”
Clark says pictures of happier times help keep him going.
Woodworth’s boyfriend and doctors agree they’ve seen strong signs of determination within her as she’s started her path to recovery in the last week.
“She is awake, her eyes are open spontaneously, she tracks around the room, she’s able to look around the room,” Dr. Roundy said. “She does not yet interact with people on a verbal basis… a lot of these things can take some time.”
The swelling in her brain is also decreasing, according to Roundy. He said it is normal for a patient to have brain swelling for about a week after an event like this, but Woodworth is coming out of this swelling period.
While doctors don’t want to speculate on Woodworth’s future, there is a possibility her motor skills will be affected. It is possible she will have permanent neurological problems, including gait and speech issues.
Doctors Roundy and Littman stressed that everybody’s recovery is a little different, but one benefit is Woodworth has youth on her side.
“I see a spark coming back in her,” Clark said.
Woodworth is expected to be in the ICU for at least another week. She will be in the hospital for another couple of weeks after that.