January 20, 2011 in Nation/World

Giffords able to stand up with help

Rehabilitation in Houston next step for congresswoman
Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press
 
Loughner indicted

PHOENIX – A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted the suspect in the deadly Arizona shooting rampage that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The indictment against Jared Loughner, 22, accuses him of attempting to assassinate Giffords and trying to kill two of her aides.

It does not include two murder charges listed in an earlier criminal complaint for the deaths of Giffords’ aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30, and U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63.

Those are potential death penalty charges. A statement from the U.S. attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, said those require a more painstaking process under Justice Department rules.

Calls to Loughner’s attorneys, Judy Clarke and Mark Fleming, weren’t immediately returned Wednesday evening.

Loughner remains in federal custody without the possibility of bond. He is set for a preliminary hearing on Monday in Phoenix.

TUCSON, Ariz. – Less than two weeks after surviving a bullet through the brain, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords stood up and looked out the window of her hospital room Wednesday as she prepares to move to Houston to begin an arduous journey of intensive mental and physical rehabilitation.

Hospital spokeswoman Janet Stark said Giffords was able to stand on her feet with assistance from medical staff Wednesday in another significant milestone in her recovery.

The next step is extensive rehabilitation in which she will have to relearn how to think and plan. It’s unclear if she is able to speak or how well she can see. And while she is moving both arms and legs, it’s uncertain how much strength she has on her right side.

Her swift transition from an intensive care unit to a rehab center is based on the latest research, which shows the sooner rehab starts, the better patients recover.

Giffords’ family hopes to move the Arizona congresswoman on Friday to TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston, where her husband lives and works as an astronaut. The exact day of the move will depend on her 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 staff at University Medical Center in Tucson “has stabilized her to the point of being ready to move to the rehabilitation phase.”

Dr. John Holcomb, retired Army colonel and a trauma surgeon at the Houston hospital, praised the care she received in Tucson and said Giffords would “move quickly toward a tailored and comprehensive rehab plan.”

Giffords was shot in the forehead Jan. 8 while meeting with constituents outside a grocery store in Tucson. She remains in serious condition. Her recovery has amazed her family and impressed her doctors, who say she is improving every day.

Over the weekend, Giffords was weaned off the ventilator and had her breathing tube replaced with a tracheotomy tube in her windpipe. Doctors also inserted a feeding tube to boost her calorie intake and repaired her right eye socket, which was damaged by the bullet.

Since being taken off sedation, Giffords has been alert and opening her eyes more often. She also started rigorous physical therapy, dangling her legs over her bedside to exercise her muscles and sitting in a chair for periods at a time. Kelly told ABC in an interview that she gave him a neck rub.

Still, the extent of her injuries and long-term prognosis won’t be known for some time.

The gunman shot 18 other people, killing six and wounding 12. All survivors have been released from hospitals.

Giffords will likely be moved to Houston by Medevac jet, Williams said, and there is little risk of a brain injury from flying. Since part of her skull has been removed, there is less pressure on the brain, and there has been no problem with swelling during her recovery.

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