(Updates with more details)
TUCSON, Ariz Jan 9 U.S. congresswoman
Gabrielle Giffords, shot in the head on Saturday at a event
with constituents in Tucson, was able to communicate and follow
simple commands, giving doctors a reason to be optimistic for
her recovery, doctors said on Sunday.
"We are very encouraged by that," said Dr. Michael Lemole,
Jr., head of neurosurgery at the hospital in Arizona where she
is being treated, said. "I am cautiously optimistic."
Giffords' responses imply a "very high level" of
functioning in the brain, but doctors cautioned that there were
still risks. Lemole said brain swelling was the "biggest
threat" at the moment.
The bullet hit an area of the brain that controls speech
functions, and the wound will lead to some degeneration of
brain cells, doctors said.
"She cannot speak, she's not saying the words," Dr. Peter
Rhee, medical director of University Medical Center's Trauma
and Critical Care, said.
The lawmaker is at a hospital in Arizona after a shooting
rampage that killed six people and wounded as many as 12 as she
met with constituents.
(Editing by Jackie Frank)