Doctors: Giffords responding well to therapy

January 22, 2011 6:32:46 PM PST
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is settling in for her rehabilitation here in Houston, and doctors are giving a clearer look at what's ahead. It's been exactly two weeks since Giffords was shot in the head in an assassination attempt in Arizona where six people were killed. Doctors are optimistic about her recovery. She was brought from Tucson to Memorial Hermann Hospital here in Houston on Friday.

Congresswoman Giffords had physical therapy again Saturday, and on her second session in Houston since the shooting, doctors say she is responding well.

Outside TIRR, well-wishers have left flags, flowers and other signs of support for Giffords. Inside Memorial Hermann, the next step of the congresswoman's recovery is underway.

"We had the physical therapy, speech therapy, and she'll get occupational therapy as well," said Dr. Gerard Francisco, who works at UT-TIRR Memorial Hermann. "She's progressing very well."

Dr. Francisco is personally overseeing her care. He says Giffords is responding well, but still has some signs of paralysis on her left side.

"We're still doing the ongoing assessment, trying to figure out what she can and cannot do so that we can design the best combination of therapies for her," Dr. Francisco said.

By ambulance, plane, then helicopter she made the trek from Tucson Friday to Houston. Doctors can't say yet if Giffords can talk. She has been moving her lips.

For now, she will endure three hours of daily therapy in the Memorial Hermann Neurotrauma ICU. A team of doctors is watching Giffords closely. They still can't say when she will be released from the ICU and moved into TIRR for in-patient rehab. They expect to have a better idea of when that might happen in the next few days.

Experts tell us Giffords will spend months at TIRR in rehabilitation, but her prognosis is good.

Optimists are hoping Giffords will graduate to outpatient rehab within a few months.

It's worth noting that the left side of her brain is still exposed, and when the portion of the skull doctors had to remove to allow for swelling will be replaced is still uncertain.