(HOUSTON) - Experts are encouraged by the sign that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was able to request toast with her breakfast, yet another advancement in her rehabilitation.
The congresswoman, who was shot in the head at an event outside a Tucson grocery store on Jan. 8, made the request to hospital workers who delivered her meal on Monday at TIRR Memorial Hermann, the Houston rehab center where she is receiving occupational therapy.
"This shows processing and communication of a want or need,” said David W. Lacey, M.D., medical director of neurorehabilitation at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “That is a remarkable advance if this is the first time she has done this. That type of functional gain is important for long-term outcome if it did not exist before."
“If she is asking for toast and is allowed to have that texture, it represents not only self-directed behavior, higher level communication skills but also the ability to probably start to meet her nutritional needs on her own”, said Roger Knackal, medical director of rehabilitation at the University of Vermont. "Her recovery appears to be at an accelerated pace and ahead of the anticipated recovery curve given the limited knowledge we are given about her case.”
Others, however, say it is to early to determine what this may mean for her long-term development.
“It is impossible to interpret what this means regarding her recovery," said Steve Flangan, chairman of the Rusk Institute at NYU.
Giffords was transferred to the Houston rehabilitation facility on Jan. 21.
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