Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has arrived in Houston, where she will begin the next phase of her recovery in a rehabilitation center. She had been at the University Medical Center in Tucson since being shot in the head at a Tucson supermarket on January 8.
Since then, Giffords has shown remarkable improvements and can now stand, take steps, scroll through her iPad and interact with her surroundings. Her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, has also said that Giffords has given him neck rubs and said, “She’ll smile at me, she’ll do a couple things she’ll only do around me, like pat me on the face. She used to do that before, very gently. I can just look at her eyes and tell. She’s well aware of who’s around her.”
Today, Giffords’ doctors determined she was well enough to leave the hospital and begin a lengthy rehab process at the TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital, a location that Kelly said would best allow him to be by his wife’s side.
Giffords is being escorted to the Davis-Monthan Air Force base by a group of VFW motorcycle riders who road with the congresswoman in 2009 when they escorted the remains of Civil War veterans from Tucson to Sierra Vista. Joining Giffords on the plane will be Dr. Peter Rhee a UMC trauma surgeon, a nurse from the intensive care unit, the congresswoman’s mother, her chief of staff, her communications director, and her husband.
The congresswoman is expected to land at William P. Hobby Airport in Houston at approximately 1:15 p.m. and then be taken by helicopter to TIRR Memorial Hospital.
While the move marks a milestone in Giffords’ recovery, there is still a long way to go.
"Not everyone always gets 100 percent restoration, but we help them to get to a new normal," Carl Josehart chief executive of the rehab hospital told the Houston Chronicle.
Still, Kelly remains confident. In a press conference yesterday, Kelly said he believed Giffords will “be back to work soon.” And today, Kelly tweeted: “GG going to next phase of her recover today. Very grateful to the docs and nurses at UMC, Tucson PD, Sheriffs Dept....Back in Tucson ASAP!”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story misstated Giffords' time of departure from the hospital.