Gabrielle Giffords' Condition Continues to Improve. Husband Says He's Seen Her Smile

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, says he's seen the congresswoman smile.
Doctors treating Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords told reporters this morning that her condition continues to improve after she was shot through the brain on January 8. However, "graduation Day," they say, will be the day Giffords leaves the hospital and begins rehabilitation.

Doctor Michael Lemole told reporters that bone fragments were pushing down on Giffords' right eye, and over the weekend, doctors were forced to perform surgery to relieve the pressure.

Lemole said the hospital felt it was beneficial to wait a week after the surgery to perform an operation to avoid complications.

Lemole says, after the surgery, Giffords woke up within a few hours with the same level of interaction she'd had before it.

The doctors say the congresswoman isn't speaking yet, but that's because the tracheotomy tube inserted into Giffords' throat over the weekend keeps air from reaching her vocal chords, preventing her from making sounds.

Doctors echoed some of the things Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, told 20/20 in an interview to be aired tomorrow night.

Kelly told the show's host, Diane Sawyer, that he'd spent much of the last week holding the congresswoman's hand. He says, she continues to respond to more complex commands and, at one point, reached up and gave him a neck rub.

Kelly told Sawyer the neck rub was "so typical of her. She's in the ICU, you know, going through this traumatic injury and she spends 10 minutes giving me a neck massage."

Doctors this morning said Kelly also reported that he's seen Giffords smile a few times, even in her dire -- but always-improving -- condition.

Doctors wouldn't speculate about when Giffords could possibly be released from the hospital to begin rehab, but will provide updates as to her progress.

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Thomas Blaney
Thomas Blaney

The most important question still not asked is -- can she write?Waiting several more days for the tube to be removed to find out if she can speak seems silly if she already has enough cognition to understand language.We are told she is alert, plays with her husbands wedding ring, can see and even grabbed and returned a pen on command. Did no one think to hand her a pad of paper and ask if she can write her own name?


Well, now that you have pointed out that the alternate spelling is probably due to confusion, it's obvious that we have to allow the New Times to use it.


It's not a misspelling -- this from Wikipedia:

Vocal cords, a term commonly used to refer to the vocal folds, is also spelled 'vocal chords', possibly due to the musical connotations or to confusion with the geometrical definition of the word "chord". While both spellings are historically correct, standard American spelling is 'vocal cords'. According to the Oxford English Corpus, contemporary writers opt for 'chords' instead of 'cords' 49% of the time.] The 'vocal cords' spelling is standard in the United Kingdom and Australia. Even in the United States, both variants can be found from early on, and it was only later on that American writers settled on 'vocal cords' as the standard version.


Don't feel bad about misspelling vocal cords; the Republic made the same mistake. They don't know how to spell ophthalmologist, either.

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