Bob Lobel’s health — His paralysis from the waist down explained

Bob Lobel

Bob Lobel’s career as a sportscaster for WBZ-TV spanned nearly 30 years with more than 10,000 broadcasts. From 1979 to 2008, he was a familiar and constant face in Boston sports and a household name on local television. He is credited for introducing a “panic button” in his sports segment and popularizing the phrase “Why can’t we get players like that?”.

Lobel has been retired from sportscasting for more than 12 years after he developed chronic health issues. But his 50-year contribution to television was honored on December 2022 as he received the Emmy’s Gold Circle Award.

Bob Lobel was diagnosed with transverse myelitis in March 2020 – He is paralyzed from the waist down

Bob Lobel has been paralyzed from the waist down since his diagnosis of transverse myelitis, a neurological condition that results in inflammation of the spinal cord.

He was diagnosed in March 2020 after he experienced severe back pain while shopping for a winter house in Naples, Florida with his partner Deedee O’Brien.

“All of a sudden, I had this really bad pain in my back. I knew I was in trouble, and that’s when Deedee got me to the hospital in Naples,” said Lobel to The Athletic.

Lobel, who was initially admitted at the Naples Community Hospital, was transferred to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston to advance his medical treatment. His longtime rival Mike Lynch came to his aid and his ex-wife Susan Wornick helped arrange an emergency medical flight to transport him from Florida to Boston.

Although depressed about the grim health developments, Lobel is trying to get better with top-notch treatment at his disposal.

“They’re treating it and they’re hopeful, but I’m pretty devastated if you want to know the truth… I am doing a lot of searching and there are a lot of machines involved, trying to get some motion back in my lower extremities and even get my balance back. I’m getting the greatest care possible,” he said.

Lobel, who previously suffered from spinal stenosis, has had multiple back surgeries over the years

Bob Lobel
Bob Lobel at Granite Links Golf Course in Quincy in 2016 | David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Unfortunately for Lobel, transverse myelitis is not his first health scare. In 2008, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a condition caused by the presence of a small spinal canal that leads to slow but continuous loss of strength in the legs.

He got his first back surgery on April 31, 2008, and got another one a few months later in October. But the multiple surgeries were unable to fully treat his stenosis. Over the years, Lobel supported himself with metal canes to stand and walk.

“I’ve had three or four back surgeries. None have been successful to cure this spinal stenosis condition. It’s not really a disease, but a condition. There’s a lot of nerve damage, and I do have a pretty good amount of pain in my feet, and hands,” he said in an interview

On November 11, 2008, Bob Lobel retired from sportscasting although he briefly returned to the channel in the following year. However, he continues to work with the radio station and does golf reports and podcasts on the weekends.