Giffords' family search for rehabilitation facility

TUCSON, Arizona Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:33pm EST

1 of 5. Items from well-wishers are seen at the office of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona January 17, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) - Family and friends of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords have searched the country for the ideal convalescent facility as the congresswoman nears her transition from recovery to rehabilitation 11 days after being shot through the head.

"They have been looking all across the nation at rehab facilities that are best equipped ... for the type of injuries she has," Giffords spokesman Mark Kimble said, though he declined to confirm a CNN report that she would be transferred to a Texas facility on Friday.

Giffords remains in serious condition at Tucson's University Medical Center. Her neurosurgeon has deemed her recovery thus far "miraculous."

Dr. Michael Lemole, who operated on Giffords the day of the shooting, said Monday that her transfer from the hospital to rehabilitation will be the lawmaker's next milestone.

"That's her graduation," Lemole said.

Giffords was shot on January 8 when a gunman opened fire on a crowd of constituents gathered to meet her outside a Tucson supermarket. Six bystanders, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl were killed and 13 others were wounded, Giffords among them.

A 22-year-old college dropout, Jared Lee Loughner, who authorities described as mentally unstable, is charged with the shooting.

Giffords's medical condition was upgraded on Sunday from critical to serious after doctors removed a breathing tube that ran from a ventilator down her throat. They replaced it with a tracheotomy tube inserted through her neck and directly into her windpipe.

The tracheotomy and a feeding tube prevent her from speaking, and doctors described her over the weekend as largely incommunicative. But close relatives insist she is aware of her surroundings and socially interactive.

Giffords unfastened her husband's tie and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt after he had attended a memorial service for one of the other shooting victims, and she has begun reading cards sent by elementary school children, CNN reported Wednesday , citing an email from Giffords' mother to family and friends.

Doctors want to start aggressive rehabilitation soon, and Giffords will move to a Houston facility Friday, the report said.

Neither the hospital nor Kimble would confirm the report or give details on Giffords' condition.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Greg McCune)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (8)
TucsonNative wrote:
Uhhh … duh … the doctors said she cannot ‘vocalize’ they never said that she cannot ’socialize’. That’s like saying you can’t report accurately, oh wait, that would be true.

Jan 18, 2011 10:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse
MacvTM19 wrote:
I hope nothing but the best for the Giffords and pray that she has a full recovery. I went though much of what Mr Giffords is currently going though as my wife suffered from brain damage from a lack of oxygen to the brain in Sept 2010. I too thought that I was seeing improvement each day such as her moving her arms and legs and opening her eyes and looking into my eyes. I feel that she did know when I was present most of the time, but after a few months I could see that she was not improving as much as I thought. She passed away 4 days before Christmas, and it has very tough on myself and our son, but I do realize that it was God’s will she is now free of any pain and watching over us.

Jan 18, 2011 11:43pm EST  --  Report as abuse
johannesg wrote:
@MacvTM19 – Thanks for providing what must be a very difficult perspective on this, a sobering one at that. May the Giffords and you/your son recover from your respective traumas.

Jan 19, 2011 1:09am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus