Tube out, hopes up
First mission accomplished: Giffords ups her therapy schedule at "lightningspeed"
After a transfer out of the intensive care unit at Memorial Hermann Hospital to The Institute of Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) on Wednesday morning, doctors for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords say the goal of starting in-patient rehabilitation therapy as fast as possible has been accomplished.
Giffords began her therapy last week after being flown to Memorial Hermann from Tucson's University Medical Center, doing rehab work even as she remained in the ICU.
Dr. Gerard Francisco, the Chief Medical Officer at TIRR, reports that Giffords was scheduled to begin physical, occupational and speech therapy Wednesday afternoon. Francisco says the therapy schedule has already been increased from the original three hours per day as Giffords' tolerance and ability has improved.
Doctors say they will work on conditioning, strengthening and range of motion exercises as well as progress in sitting and standing. Francisco said there will be a focus on improving balance, the ability to sit upright and improving on the weakness in Giffords' right side.
The ventriculostomy or cerebrospinal fluid drain (essentially a tube) installed in Giffords' head in Tucson, was removed by doctors on Monday with no complications and the medical team says it doesn't expect Giffords to require a stunt.
The congresswoman still has a tracheal tube despite being able to breathe independently and swallow safely. According to Dr. Imoigele Aisiku, the director of Neurocritical Care at the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann, the tracheal tube will slowly be downgraded over the coming weeks, a process that has already begun.
"We are seeing daily improvement in her neurological condition," says Dr. Dong Kim, the director of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute. Kim says Giffords is "cooperating, interactive, and aware," responding to her family and staff and able to follow commands. "For brain issues this is lightning speed."
Giffords was shot in the head at an constituents event outside of a Tucson-area grocery store on Jan. 8. She was transferred from Tucson to Houston on Jan. 21.