Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz) is "doing great" and transitioning well to her new rehabilitation Sunday after being shot two weeks ago in a mass shooting at a grocery store in Tuscon, Ariz., according to a tweet from her husband.
"GG all settled in here at MH, " tweeted Mark Kelly on Saturday about her move to Memorial Hermann's Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) in Houston. "Doing great in her new room. Lots of rehab w/TIRR staff Sunday."
A Sunday morning update from Kelly that Giffords is charging forward with her treatment. "No weekends here," he posted. "Gabrielle starts her second day of rehab."
Giffords, 40, was relocated Friday afternoon to an intensive care unit at Texas Medical Center, where a new team of doctors planned to start her therapy immediately. Doctors say the 930-plus-mile trip from Tuscon to Houston went flawlessly.
After several days of evaluation, she was sent to the center's rehabilitation hospital.
Giffords has "great rehabilitation potential," said Dr.Gerardo Francisco, chief medical officer of Memorial Hermann.
"She will keep us busy, and we will keep her busy as well," hesaid.
The first thing is to determine the extent of Giffords' injuriesand the impact on her abilities to move and communicate. She hasn'tspoken yet, and it's unknown whether she will suffer permanentdisabilities.
A gunman shot Giffords and 18 other people on Jan. 8 as she metwith constituents outside a grocery store in Tucson. Six peopledied. The suspect in the attack, Jared Loughner, 22, is being heldin federal custody.
Since she was hospitalized at University Medical Center inTucson, Giffords has made progress nearly every day, withcharacteristically cautious surgeons calling her improvementremarkable.
Each new press conference seemingly yields a few more detailsabout the Giffords that her family knows.
Tracy Culbert, a nurse who accompanied Giffords and thecongresswoman's husband, Houston-based astronaut Mark Kelly, on theflight, described her as being captivated by a ring on Culbert'sfinger. The nurse took it off and Giffords put it on her own hand.
"She was taking it off my hand and I asked if she wanted to seeit," Culbert said.
Asked how she felt about leaving Giffords on Friday to return toArizona, Culbert replied, "Do you want me to cry?
"She's a very gentle person," Culbert said, "and herpersonality is coming out with her touches, the way she touches us,the way she looks at us, and I am very lucky to know her."
Then, she added: "I have a lot of hope for her, and I knowshe's going to do great."
Doctors said Giffords will stay in the intensive care unit fornow because she has a drain to remove fluid buildup in her brain.She was going to begin rehab immediately, with a session scheduledfor Friday afternoon.
Because part of her skull was removed during surgery, aspecially made helmet was made to protect her brain. Friese saidGiffords' husband asked them to make another one - with the Arizonaflag on it.
"We immediately got one the next day," Friese said.
Specialists ranging from physical and occupational therapists tospeech therapists and psychologists will give a slew of tests tosee what she can and cannot do.
They'll determine the strength of her legs and her ability tostand and walk; the strength of her arms, and whether she can brushher teeth or comb her hair; whether she can safely swallow on herown; how well she thinks and communicates - not just her ability tospeak, but also to understand and comprehend.
While she is moving both arms and legs, it's uncertain how muchstrength she has on her right side; the bullet passed through theleft side of her brain, which controls the right side of the body.
Giffords, 40, has some weakness or paralysis on her right side,said Dr. Dong Kim, neurosurgery chief at University of TexasHealth. He said she can move her leg, and may be able to supportherself, but "may not be able to move it when she when shewants."
During a half-hour exam, she didn't move her right arm, but Kimsaid he was told that she could move it.
Giffords will stay at Memorial Hermann until she no longer needs24-hour medical care - the average is one to two months. Then shecan get up to five hours a day of physical and other rehabtherapies as an outpatient.
The transfer from Tucson was a major milestone among many thatGiffords has already passed.
Before they left the hospital, Giffords' husband tweeted: "GGgoing to next phase of her recover today. Very grateful to the docsand nurses at UMC, Tucson PD, Sheriffs Dept....Back in TucsonASAP!"
For some along the route to the airport, the sight of hermotorcade seemed like a prayer answered.
Bundled into an ambulance, Giffords slipped away from thehospital, leaving behind the grief and hope embodied in the cards,candles and carnations at a makeshift memorial on the front lawn.
Marine veteran Al Garcia waited anxiously along the route to theairport, his Harley Davidson motorcycle at his side. He wanted tojoin the back of the caravan to show support for the woman whovisited his neighborhood to ask about residents' concerns.
"It's through all of these prayers that she's leaving in justtwo weeks," Garcia said.
"The community has just come together so much - all walks oflife, no matter what party you belong to," he said. "They've allcome together to show their support for her and the other victimsof this tragedy."
Moments later, he and a few other veterans joined the caravan.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times