Flawless Fertitta Flight
Giffords arrives in Houston with "great rehab potential": Doctors won'tspeculate on a return to office
Representative Gabrielle Giffords arrived safety at Houston's Memorial Hermann hospital Friday afternoon, and her new doctors are already optimistic about her rehabilitation potential.
Doctors say Giffords is doing excellent and responding in the top five percent for her injuries — aware of her surroundings and able to communicate with gestures, if not language. Memorial Hermann Dr. John Holcomb noted that her injuries were tangential and "could have been a whole lot worse." Doctors say a C/T scan showed that for her situation her injuries are "minimal."
Doctors described the transfer, including a flight from Tucson on one of Tilman Fertitta's jets, as "flawless," and "well-planned," adding that Giffords spent the ride napping and interacting with her husband Mark Kelly and her mother.
Giffords is currently in the intensive care unit of Memorial Hermann, where she'll be monitored and assessed throughout the weekend. Giffords is expected to remain in the ICU until at least early next week, until doctors feel comfortable removing a fluid drain from her head. Doctors note that there have been no complications so far and that Giffords' is "doing great," but they will be monitoring her for deep vein thrombosis, pneumonia and other infections common after an extended stay in the ICU.
"She looks spectacular from a neurological point of view," said Dr. Dong Kim, the director of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute. "She was alert, awake, calm and comfortable."
Kim reports that Giffords has "very good" movement on her left side, good tone in her legs and sensitivity to light in her eyes, but stated her right side has varying stages of weakness or paralysis, with some movement but not movement on command. Nevertheless Giffords' rehabilitation began in the ICU on Friday afternoon, with physical therapists and occupational therapists ready to work on range of motion and positioning for up to three hours per day according to Dr. Gerard Francisco, the chief medical officer at TIRR Memorial Hermann.
"She has great rehabilitation potential," said Francisco, though he declined to speculate if Giffords would eventually be able to return to her elected office. "She'll keep us busy and we'll keep her busy."
Dr. Randall Friese of Tucson's University Medical Center recalled Giffords' emotional response to hearing applause on the streets of Tucson as she was driven to the airport. "She responded well. She was smiling and even tearing up a little. It was clear she understood what was happening and that the people of Tucson and Arizona were supporting her," he said.
Doctors were careful to caution that while her prognosis is good, Giffords still has a long road ahead.
"We expect her to continue making dramatic progress, but this will be a four- to six-month process regardless," Dr. Kim said.