Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords will be moved to a Texas facility on Friday to continue her rehabilitation from a gunshot wound to the head, according to a CNN article. The CNN Wire Staff quotes the Congresswoman’s mother, Gloria Giffords, as saying that her daughter “shows higher levels of comprehension and complex action” every day.
While speaking at a public event on Saturday, January 8, Rep. Giffords was shot just above the left eye, the article explains, and the bullet exited through the back of her head. While Giffords has not been able to speak due to the presence of a breathing tube, her mother reports that she is able to sit up and move around on command, as well as scroll through pictures on an iPod and read sympathy cards from local elementary school children, says CNN.
In an e-mail to family and friends also received by CNN, Gloria Giffords writes that her daughter’s recovery “won’t be a stroll in the park although Mark predicts she’ll be up and walking around in 2 weeks. The physical and emotional therapy will proceed side by side and it’ll be stringent.” According to the article, the Houston, Texas, facility to which Rep. Giffords will be moving specializes in bullet wounds to the head.
While Giffords’ injuries are serious and her rehabilitation will likely be difficult and lengthy, there is precedent for a near-complete recovery. Former Broward County police sergeant Maury Hernandez incurred a similar injury while on patrol in August of 2007, reports Rich Phillips for CNN. Though unlike Giffords, Hernandez was shot in the back right side of the head and the bullet had to be removed by surgeons, both sustained injuries to only one side of the brain without the bullet crossing the midline, the article explains. According to Dr. Greg Zorman, neurosurgeon at Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, Florida, “if stays on one side or the other, then survival is possible, and sometimes recovery is possible,” CNN reports.
Hernandez knows this well. Nearly three and a half years later, he walks with a slight limp and has difficulty using his left hand, but the story explains that he describes himself as “doing just fine.” Physical and occupational therapy, along with support from a loving family, have played a large role in his recovery, Phillips says.
Asked if he had any advice for Giffords, reports CNN, Hernandez advised her “to listen to herself and listen to her heart,” rather than those who would tell her what she can and can’t do. “If she does that,” Hernandez said, “she’s going to be OK.”
CNN Wire Staff. (January 19, 2011) “Mother: Giffords to be moved to rehab center Friday.” Retrieved January 19, 2011 from CNN.
Rich Phillips. (January 13, 2011) “Wounded officer: Giffords ‘can make it. I did.’” Retrieved January 19, 2011 from CNN.