Fist pumping for joy
"Remarkable" progress for Gabrielle Giffords; shuttle launch trip next goal
Doctors at TIRR Memorial Hermann had nothing but good news on Friday about the recovery of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Giffords, who was shot in the head at point-blank range two months ago in Tucson, has improved by "leaps and bounds," according to Dr. Dong Kim, the director of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann.
Giffords recently had the last of her tracheal tube removed, and has shown better movement, muscle condition and speaking ability. She can walk with assistance, string full sentences together and interact in conversation for an extended period of time.
Doctors specifically mentioned that Giffords will say, "I'm tired, I want to go to bed," at the end of her three to five hours of daily rehabilitation therapy. She smiles and gets excited when she reaches a new accomplishment, and she even gave a fist-pump in response to the news she would get her trach tube out, said Dr. Imoigele Aisiku, the director of neurocritical care at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.
"It's not flashes of personality anymore," said Kim. "That's how she is all the time. I think we all feel we know Gabby very well."
"She is upbeat and focused on getting better," said Dr. Gerard Francisco, chief medical officer at TIRR Memorial Hermann. "She hasn't shown signs of depression or much frustration, and that's partly because she's continuing to improve so quickly."
Giffords still has some weakness but shows no sign of vision or memory loss, though she does not remember the day of the shooting. Doctors say her husband Mark Kelly has told her about what happened to her but it's unclear whether she knows about the other people who were killed or injured.
There is currently no timetable for when Giffords might begin outpatient care, and her next goal is attending her husband's space shuttle launch in Florida in April. Doctors say it's too early to make a determination but that a trip is a possibility.
"Her progress has been quite remarkable, better than what we had expected," said Kim.