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Gabrielle Giffords Remarkable Recovery: Eyes Are Open, Legs Are Moving

gifford's recovery after tuscon tragedy

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the Commandant at the University of Arizona

This morning, doctors at Tucson’s University Medical Center said that Gabrielle Giffords is making “remarkable” progress. She has opened her eyes and can move her legs. Her eyes opened last night in the presence of her family and some of her colleagues, shortly after a visit from the President. This morning she again opened and rubbed her eyes, yawned and looked around the room.

Doctors seem impressed — cautious, but impressed. And so does President Obama who, in his speech last night remarked, “Gabby opened her eyes!”

Giffords was shot in the front of the head above her left eyebrow, and the bullet exited at the back of her head (earlier reports had suggested the opposite), so it’s no surprise that doctors and family have been eagerly waiting for signs of brain function.

But not only has she proved capable of being conscious and looking around for up to 15 minutes at a time, here’s what doctors say about her ability to move her legs:

“She is able to move both of her legs to command. That’s huge,” said her neurosurgeon. “We say, ‘Gabrielle, lift your legs up,’ and she lifts both of them up.”

This is a really good sign for her recovery. No one knows if she is able to talk, because she still has in a breathing tube, which doctors will attempt to remove in a few more days. Giffords can breath on her own, though, the tube is to prevent infection. Here’s more from an earlier report on her brain function.

But based on her ability to respond to directions, we know that the area of her brain that understands language is intact — in a few days we’ll be able to see if the one that produces languages (a separate area) is working too.

Her family must be waiting with baited breath at this point. As the next week unfolds, they’ll find out just what skills and abilities she’ll have moving forward, although with each passing day they must just be thankful that she’s stable and out of critical condition.

photo: flickr user USCG Press

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