Giffords out of hospital

June 16, 2011 at 1:57 AM
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HOUSTON, June 16 (UPI) -- Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Wednesday was released from a Houston hospital where she had convalesced from a gunshot wound to her head.

Officials said Giffords will return to TIRR Memorial Hermann in the Texas Medical Center each weekday for physical therapy. However, she will live with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, at a home in League City, Texas, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"Congresswoman Giffords has shown clear, continuous improvement from the moment she arrived at TIRR five months ago," Dr. Gerald Francisco, the hospital's chief medical officer, said in a statement. "We are very excited that she has reached the next phase of her rehabilitation and can begin outpatient treatment."

Kelly, in a statement, indicated the change of scenery will be a big boost for his wife.

"Anyone who knows Gabby knows that she loves being outside," Kelly said. "Living and working in a rehab facility for five months straight has been especially challenging for her. She will still go to TIRR each day but, from now on, when she finishes rehab, she will be with her family."

Giffords, 41, was wounded in January when a gunman opened fire at a constituents event outside a supermarket in Tucson. The shooter killed six people and wounded 13, including the Arizona Democrat, who was his alleged primary target.

The suspected gunman, Jared Loughner, is in custody.

Giffords' survival from the near-fatal gunshot wound has been remarkable but she faces a long, hard road ahead and the extent of her eventual recovery remains in doubt.

"She has zero chance of making a full recovery, getting back to the way she was," Dr. David N. Alexander, director of neurological rehabilitation and research at UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center, told the Times. "There is no question in my mind that there is a core of brain tissue that has been permanently damaged."

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