Rep. Giffords' road to rehab

By Elizabeth Temple - bio | email

LAKE CHALRES, LA (KPLC) – Representative Gabrielle Giffords transfers to The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, TIRR, in Houston Wednesday to begin the next step in her recovery process, and even though her status is upgraded from serious to good doctors say she faces a hard road ahead.

"They need help bathing or eating…so the beginning of rehab is kind of like when somebody comes home from the hospital for the first time when they're a little baby and they have to be helped with the simplest things," explained Dr. Corwin Boake, neuropsychologist at TIRR Memorial Hermann and UT Health.

He said the scariest part for many patients is coping with what happened.

"Most people who have had a serious head injury wake up in a rehab hospital and we have to tell them why they're there," said Dr. Boake.

Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, was by her side in the passenger seat of the ambulance during the transfer from ICU to the rehab facility. Support from family and friends is a vital part of rehabilitation especially after a traumatic event, said Dr. Boake.

"They may feel threatened because of that…sometimes we need to comfort them or have them surrounded by family," said Dr. Boake.

Doctors at Memorial Hermann Hospital say Giffords shows signs of paralysis or weakness on her right side meaning the left side of her brain may be the most injured. Dr. Boake said there is hope for movement in that side.

"They used to think that a few months after a brain injury that was it and you had to just accept how you were. Now it's been discovered that the person's potential is much greater than that, so they can undergo intensive therapy for a long time and get benefits that ten years ago they would not have had," explained Dr. Boake.

Giffords' doctor at Memorial Hermann estimates her rehab will last about six months.

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