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Entries in Gabrielle Giffords (86)

Monday
Jun202011

Tucson Welcomes Home Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was back in Tucson, Arizona over the weekend for the first time since the shooting incident in early January that nearly claimed her life.

Giffords met with family members and friends in her home city but made no public appearances.  Still, it was an emotional homecoming for the Arizona Democrat following months of intensive rehabilitation in Houston.

Giffords was holding a meet-and-greet event with constituents in front of a Tucson supermarket on Jan. 8 when police say that 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner shot her in the head and then opened fire on others, killing six people and wounding 12 more.

Despite initial reports that Giffords didn't survive the shooting, doctors were able to save her life, although the bullet that passed through the left side of Giffords' brain has resulted in an arduous recovery that will continue at the Houston home Giffords shares with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

During her return to Tucson, a Giffords aide said, "Tucson has come to feel the same way about Gabrielle Giffords, if they haven’t already, as she feels about them.  From what I can understand, from what I’ve heard, folks down here are really glad to have her back, if only for a short visit."

Loughner, meanwhile, was ruled unfit to stand trial, although he is receiving treatment at a mental facility in order to enable him to face the 49 federal charges against him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun172011

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to Return to Tucson for Short, Private Visit

P.K. Weis/Giffords Campaign - P.K. Weis via Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords plans to return Arizona for a brief private visit with her family this weekend, her husband and officials from her office said Friday.

The Congresswoman is expected to make no public appearances during the visit, according to a news release from her office.

For Giffords, the weekend visit will be the first time she has been back in the state since January -- when she was shot in the head at a community event.

"For five long months, Gabby has been living and working in the rehab facility in Houston," husband Mark Kelly said in the news release. "Now that she is an outpatient, her first priority is coming home to the place that is such a source of strength for her."

Giffords was released from TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital Wednesday.

"It's great for her to be out of the hospital. That's a long time for anybody to be in a hospital bed, in a hospital room," Kelly told a CBS News crew, speaking for the first time on camera since Giffords was released from a Houston hospital.

Giffords was nervous about leaving the hospital where she'd been for nearly five months, Kelly said.

The couple are staying at their suburban home near the Johnson Space Center. Kelly recently returned from commanding Space Shuttle Endeavour. Giffords attended his shuttle launch last month and had surgery to replace a portion of her skull while he was on his mission.

Jared Loughner is accused of opening fire at Giffords' Jan. 8 meet-and-greet event.

A federal judge ruled Loughner mentally incompetent to stand trial for the mass shooting, which killed six and left 13 injured including Giffords.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun152011

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Released from Hospital

P.K. Weis/Giffords Campaign - P.K. Weis via Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was released from the TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital on Wednesday.  The Arizona congresswoman had been receiving treatment for a gunshot wound to the head after Jared Lee Loughner allegedly opened fire at a Jan. 8 event in Tucson, Ariz.

Giffords' physicians say her cognitive abilities and physical strength have improved satisfactorily and that "she no longer needs to remain a patient at the hospital."

"Congresswoman Giffords has shown clear, continuous movement from the moment she arrived at TIRR five months ago," Dr. Gerard Francisco said Wednesday.  "We are very excited that she has reached the next phase of her rehabilitation and can begin outpatient treatment.  We have no doubt that she will continue to make significant strides in her recovery."

Next, Giffords will move into a home in League City, Texas, with her husband, Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, where she will receive 24-hour assistance from a home health provider and will continue to work with the same rehab team on an outpatient basis.

Kelly said Wednesday that staying in the rehab facility has not been easy for his wife.

"Anyone who knows Gabby knows that she loves being outside.  Living and working in a rehab facility for five months has been especially challenging for her.  She will still go to TIRR each day but from now on, when she finishes rehab, she will be with her family."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun142011

Rep. Giffords' Rosy Recovery Needs Reality Check, Experts Say

Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, bright eyes peering out from behind blue wire-framed glasses, looks radiant in a recently released Facebook photo.  But experts say her half-tilt smile suggests her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head will be complex.

The Arizona congresswoman has astounded all her doctors, climbing stairs recently to board a plane for Florida to watch her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, at the launch of the shuttle Endeavour and responding to her family and caregivers.  Now, as Giffords prepares to leave TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, to begin her long-term rehabilitation, brain injury experts say public hopes for a return to the House may be unrealistic.

"If I had to guess, I would expect her to have some deficiencies for the rest of her life," said Dr. Anand Germanwala, chief of cerebral vascular and skull-based neurosurgery at the University of North Carolina Medical School.  "The brain is a very unforgiving organ."

"I certainly wish her all the best and hope she has complete recovery -- it is possible," he said.  "But realistically thinking, this is a young lady in a high profile job, well-educated and eloquent.  That requires a lot of brain tasks to successfully execute the job.  To expect that now, it's not fair."

Her husband, who has been the most consistent optimist, admits the road back is "months, not weeks away."

Rosy rhetoric and hope are critical for healing, say doctors, but brain injuries like the one Giffords sustained five months ago can change a person's abilities and behavior unalterably.

Giffords was shot at point-blank range at a community event outside a Tucson grocery store on Jan. 8.  The bullet tore through the left side of her brain, the heart of cognition, speech and movement.

The photos, taken in May by P.K. Weiss, a professional photographer and longtime friend of Giffords, show an upbeat woman, but even her chief of staff Pia Carusone warns about being overly optimistic, saying Giffords speaks in only one- or two-word sentences and uses her hands and facial expression to be understood.

Giffords is experiencing aphasia, a disorder associated with brain injury that impairs her ability to process language, although those close to her say she does understand her surroundings.

Centers of speech and movement are only "a few centimeters apart," and so Giffords could have just an isolated speech injury and be spared disabilities in movement, said Germanwala.  But looking at the photos, he said he "suspects" some weakness in the right arm and leg.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jun122011

First Photos of Gabrielle Giffords Released on Facebook

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- For the first time since she was shot in January, the public got a chance to see post-shooting photographs of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in snapshots posted on Giffords’ Facebook page on Sunday.

The photos were reportedly taken on May 17 at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital, and show a smiling Giffords with short black hair, dressed in red and wearing glasses.

The pictures were taken by photographer P.K. Weis, who in a statement said he has known Giffords for over a decade and that he was asked by her staff to take the photographs because the congresswoman wanted to be around someone she was comfortable with.

"Any photographer in the country would have loved the opportunity to take these pictures and I was delighted to be asked," said Weiss in the statement posted on Facebook.

Sources tell ABC News that Giffords’ condition has improved to the point that she would be allowed to leave the Houston hospital and continue therapy on an outpatient basis in the next few weeks.

Giffords was injured in a shooting incident in Tucson, Arizona on January 8, in which six people were killed and 12 other people were also injured. A judge has ruled that the shooting suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, is mentally incompetent to stand trial.

The photos can be viewed on Facebook.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun102011

Giffords Aide Admits Congresswoman Has Difficulty Speaking

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Despite what has been reported in the media, the road to recovery for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has been slow and frustrating, according to her chief of staff.

Pia Carusone admitted to The Arizona Republic that the Democratic lawmaker, who was shot in the head during a meet-and-greet event in Tucson, Arizona on Jan. 8, has had difficulty relearning how to speak.

Giffords, who is undergoing intensive rehabilitation in a Houston facility, can communicate mainly through facial expressions and gestures but "when it comes to a bigger and more complex thought that requires words, that’s where she’s had the trouble."

Carusone says that doctors admit that the lawmaker's condition is far from what it was before the shooting five months ago that also took the lives of six people and wounded 12 others, besides Giffords.

Physicians acknowledge that the full extent of Giffords' brain injury is hard to ascertain because they cannot perform an MRI examination since there are bullet shards still lodged inside her head.

As for returning to Congress, Carusone says that's not on the immediate horizon.  The determination will ultimately have to be made by Giffords.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May272011

Tornadoes Caused by Military? Recent Events Fuel Conspiracy Theories

Julie Denesha/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's an astonishing claim: The tornado that ravaged Joplin, Missouri last Sunday, killing at least 125 people, was not a random act of nature but the result of an obscure military-backed research program in Alaska that shoots radio waves into the upper atmosphere.

Here's another one: The shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona last January that killed six people and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was an elaborate government hoax that used actors to portray the victims.

And there is this: Osama bin Laden is still alive, and the raid in which daring Navy SEALs shot him dead was fabricated to improve President Obama's chances of winning re-election.

These are three of the bogus new conspiracy theories flying across the Internet, advanced by believers who insist the evidence to support them could not be any clearer.

"Don't know about the rest of you, but I'm telling everyone I know and don't know (sales clerks, bank tellers, waiters, etc.) about the weather manipulation," a YouTube poster named "thegreenieye" wrote, responding to a video that claims last month's devastating tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama also was caused by the atmospheric research in Alaska.

"99.5 [percent] of people are completely unaware of this," thegreenieye wrote.  "Tell everyone you know (and don't know) about it.  The masses need to be informed!"

The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, run by the University of Alaska and supported by the Navy and Air Force, shoots radio waves into the upper atmosphere to study how those waves are affected and develop better communications technologies.  But conspiracy theorists see it as some kind of doomsday device causing havoc across the planet.

Experts say the idea that the research could cause a rain shower, let alone a tornado or an earthquake, is ridiculous.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May262011

Mark Kelly to Hold Video Chat with Wife Gabrielle Giffords

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Astronaut Mark Kelly plans to hold a video chat from space on Friday with his wife, Arizona Congressman Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering from a gunshot wound she received to the head in January.

Speaking to reporters Thursday morning from Endeavour, which docked with the International Space Station last week, the space shuttle's commander said he's "looking forward to talking to her."

"I've been speaking with her every night before I go to bed," Kelly said.  "It's her morning.  But it will be nice to do it via video, be able to see how she's doing and her to join us aboard the space station for a little bit."

Kelly said he plans to hold the video chat in the cupola of the ISS to give Giffords "a chance to look outside, look at the space shuttle docked to the space station."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May252011

Jared Loughner Mentally Incompetent to Stand Trial

Pima County Sheriff's Department(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Jared Lee Loughner has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial in the Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., that left six dead and 13 wounded, including congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.

Before being declared mentally incompetent Wednesday by federal judge Larry Burns, Loughner yelled: "Thank you for the freak show," "She died in front of me" and "You're treasonous." He was removed from the courtroom.

Loughner, 22, is paranoid schizophrenic, suffering from delusions and hallucinations, according to mental health professionals. His mental health evaluation also found that Loughner had an "irrational" distrust of his lawyers.

Loughner will be treated for his illness and reevaluated by the court in four months, but there is no guarantee he will improve enough to stand trial. Russell Weston, for instance, walked into the U.S. Capitol in 1998 and allegedly killed two police officers. Twelve years later, he has yet to stand trial.

Charges against Loughner include attempting to assassinate a member of Congress and the killing of a federal judge. But Loughner's mental health has been a subject of speculation since the shootings. Even before January, Loughner's troubled mental state had been noticed by former friends and classmates, as well as by the police at Pima Community College, where he was a student.

Loughner has been in custody since being arrested at the scene of the shooting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May252011

Is Accused Tucson Shooter Mentally Competent to Stand Trial?

Pima County Sheriff's DepartmentUPDATE: A federal judge on Wednesday ruled Jared Lee Loughner incompetent to stand trial.

(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- There is apparently overwhelming evidence that Jared Lee Loughner shot and killed people in cold blood last January, including testimony from eye witnesses who pulled a hot pistol from his hands.

But is Loughner mentally competent to stand trial?  That is the question about which U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns will hear arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys in a Wednesday hearing at federal court in Tucson, Arizona.

The judge has been reviewing two sealed evaluations from a psychologist and a psychiatrist reflecting on Loughner’s mental state.  The issue is whether he understands the charges against him and is able to participate in his own defense.

There are arguments on both sides for both possibilities.  On one hand, Loughner is clearly troubled -- likely suffering from some form of mental illness.  On the other, there are reports that Loughner looked up information on the Internet about lethal injections before the assault and meticulously planned the Tucson shooting, which left six people dead and wounded 13 others, including Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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