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Doctors Hopeful as Giffords Breathes on Her Own, Moves Hands

By Jim Greene

on January 12, 2011

Doctors attending U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords are optimistic that she will survive the traumatic brain injury caused by a gunshot to her head, but say it’s too early to predict how fully she will recover and how long her recovery might take.

Three days after the attack in front of a Tucson grocery store that left six dead and 14 others injured, Giffords was breathing on her own and able to move both hands in response to doctors’ instructions. She was still listed in critical condition and doctors would only say that her recuperation would be lengthy.

Breathing Tube Guards Against Pneumonia

Her doctors said Giffords was able to breathe on her own, although a breathing tube was still in place, as a protection against fluid in the lungs that might cause pneumonia.

The fact that Giffords had recovered the ability to move her right hand was seen as hopeful, since the bullet that struck her passed through the left side of her brain, which controls the right hand. Because it is controlled by the uninjured right side of her brain, Giffords has more control over her left hand.

Giffords’ brain was still swollen, but the swelling had not increased, which was also seen as hopeful, since swelling usually peaks about the third day after a traumatic brain injury. Part of her skull was removed temporarily to relieve the potentially damaging pressure caused by swelling.

Traumatic Brain Injury Survivors Can Face Lifelong Impairment

Because the brain controls nearly every function of the body, a serious traumatic brain injury, such as a gunshot or the impact suffered in a traffic accident, nearly always has catastrophic results. If the victim is not killed, there may be severe impairment of cognitive or motor functions, or sensory deprivation, such as blindness. In many cases, the victim requires a lifetime of care from others. At the very least, there may be months or even years of rehabilitative therapy.

If someone you love has suffered traumatic brain injury resulting in impairment or death, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. The cost of caring for someone who survives traumatic brain injury can ruin a family’s financial future, as can the loss of income. Your attorney will fight to get you the financial assistance you need and deserve.

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