Doctor: Giffords Making ‘Leaps and Bounds’

Posted March 11, 2011 at 3:06pm

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has made “tremendous progress” since receiving treatment at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston.

“There’s been very good progress in the last six weeks. I’m very happy to report that she is making leaps and bounds in terms of neurological recovery,” Dr. Dong Kim said at a press conference Friday. Kim is the director of Hermann Memorial’s Mischer Neuroscience Institute and has been treating the Arizona Democrat since she was admitted Jan. 26.

Kim said Giffords, who was shot in the head Jan. 8 at a district event in Tucson, Ariz., has improved her speech, can carry on conversations and “is starting to string words together.”

Dr. Gerard Francisco, the head of Giffords’s rehabilitation team, said she is “gaining more movement.”

“The amount of assistance that she needs has decreased significantly,” Francisco said.

Giffords is able to breath on her own and walk with assistance. She hopes to travel to Cape Canaveral, Fla., next month to see her husband, Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut, blast off on a space shuttle mission. Giffords’ doctors did not indicate Friday whether the Congresswoman would be well enough for the April trip, but they appeared hopeful.

While the three-term Congresswoman does not show signs of any severe memory loss, she does not have any recollection of the January shooting outside a Safeway grocery store in her district that left her in critical condition. Several bystanders were killed, including Gabe Zimmerman, a member of her Congressional staff.

“She’s very upbeat, focused on getting better,” Kim said. “She hasn’t shown us depression, and she’s just been very forward-looking.”