TUCSON, Ariz. — U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will be moved Friday to a rehabilitation hospital in Houston to begin the next phase of her recovery from a gunshot wound, barring medical issues that would delay the move, her family said Wednesday.
Giffords’ husband said his wife’s care will continue at TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston, where he lives and works as an astronaut. Doctors say the exact day of the move will depend on Giffords’ health.
"I am extremely hopeful at the signs of recovery that my wife has made since the shooting," Mark Kelly said in a statement released by Giffords’ congressional office. "The team of doctors and nurses at UMC has stabilized her to the point of being ready to move to the rehabilitation phase."
Kelly is scheduled to command NASA’s last space shuttle flight in April, but that’s uncertain now. He has been a constant presence at Giffords’ bedside since rushing to Tucson after first getting word of the attack.
Giffords was gravely wounded by a gunshot to the forehead on Jan. 8 as she was meeting with constituents outside a grocery store in Tucson. The gunman shot 18 other people, killing six and wounding 12 more.
Since then, she has been at University Medical Center in Tucson, where her condition has improved almost daily, doctors have said.
"The congresswoman’s family wants to ensure she receives the best rehabilitative care possible for her type of serious penetrating brain injury," said Dr. Michael Lemole, one of the congresswoman’s neurosurgeons. "As a result, they considered facilities around the country, including rehabilitation hospitals in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and Houston."
Dr. Jonathan Fellus, director of the brain injury program at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, N.J., said it’s not surprising that Giffords could enter rehabilitation as early as two weeks after the injury.
"It’s not unusual as long as she’s been medically and neurologically stabilized," he said. "The sooner the better."
Associated Press Science Writer Malcolm Ritter in New York contributed to this report.