Gabrielle Giffords sedated, has responded to simple commands
Doctors say they are "cautiously optimistic" about the recovery of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) after Saturday's tragic shootings. Michael LeMole Jr., chief of neurosurgery at the University of Arizona and Peter Rhee, the university's trauma director, told reporters early Sunday afternoon that Giffords was responding to simple commands.
Giffords has been put in a medically-induced coma, doctors said. However, the doctors said that they have been waking her periodically to test her brain function.
Right now, the biggest threat to Giffords' life is brain swelling, according to the doctors. Half of her skull has been removed to take away pressure on the brain. They will reattach her skull when the swelling has died down, which could take months.
"She can't open her eyes at this point, and she's on a ventilator so she can't speak. But she is able to move her hands. That implies a very high level of function in the brain," Rhee said.
"Things are going very well, we're very happy at this stage," he added. The doctors emphasized, however, that it was "not productive" to try and predict when Giffords would make a full recovery. "It's still very precarious at this time," Rhee said.
"Bleeding was not severe or excessive," LeMole said. We are "cautiously optimistic."
The bullet went through the left side of the brain but did not move from one hemisphere to the other. "This is about as good as it's going to get," LeMole said. The left side of the brain controls speech and simple commands, so the fact that Giffords can respond is a very good sign, the doctors said.
| January 9, 2011; 12:00 PM ET
Categories: 2010 Election, 44 The Obama Presidency
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