Giffords Headed To Houston Center With 'Outstanding Reputation'

January 20, 2011

Mark Memmott

The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research in Houston, where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) is headed on Friday, is "renowned for its care of survivors of brain and spinal cord injuries," the Houston Chronicle writes.

Giffords, who is recovering from the severe head injuries she received in a Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson that left six people dead and 13 (including her) wounded from gunshots, faces a "grueling recovering process," the Chronicle adds. It reports that:

"Typically ... such therapy involves relearning simple daily tasks most people do without thinking -- such as walking, bathing and dressing, said Dr. Stephanie Sneed, a brain injury specialist at Houston's Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.

" 'It does start pretty simple because it's just trying to get some of the simple motor movements and cognitive tasks and just trying to be alert enough to participate in the therapy session,' said Sneed, who treats veterans who have suffered similar injuries in combat or accidents. 'You just try to build off each step and you try to add another challenge to it to see if they can achieve that task'."

The Arizona Republic adds that "Giffords' relocation is another sign that she is recuperating well. Patients with serious brain injuries are moved to rehabilitation facilities such as TIRR only after their neurosurgeon and other care providers deem they are ready for more aggressive therapy."

Giffords' doctors and family also considered facilities in Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago. Along with its good reputation, the Houston center will bring her closer NASA's Johnson Space Center. Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, is an astronaut.

There was more good news about her condition yesterday, when doctors reported that Giffords, 40, has been able to stand on her own and look out the window of her Tucson hospital room. There wasn't any word, though, about whether she has yet tried to speak.

Also Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted Jared Loughner, 22, on one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress and two counts of attempted murder of federal employees. As NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, "federal murder charges are expected soon, and additional state charges could come later." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.