THURSDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords continued her remarkable recovery Thursday, one day after doctors inserted a plastic implant to replace the piece of skull that had been removed after she was shot in the head by a would-be assassin four months ago.
The Arizona congresswoman is "recovering well after her surgery today," read a Wednesday statement from TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, where the surgery was performed, the Associated Press reported.
Doctors removed the portion of skull to ease pressure on her brain, which swelled after she was shot.
Still, her doctors said Giffords continues to face a long road to recovery, and have repeatedly talked about reaching a new "normal," the AP said.
Wednesday's surgery, the latest step in a recovery described as miraculous, came only days after Giffords traveled to Florida to see her husband, Mark Kelly, rocket into space as commander of the space shuttle Endeavour's last mission.
While the latest surgery is a major move forward, it will have no effect on her neurological status, and any speech or other therapy will continue, according to one expert, Dr. Anders Cohen, chief of neurosurgery at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.
"This is part of the recovery," Cohen said. "This is on the happier side, because it is not lifesaving. Swelling is no longer an issue, so let's protect the brain and let's give her a better cosmetic look. It's a quick thing with a fast recovery," he said.
After the shooting in Tucson, which killed six people and wounded 12 others, doctors removed a large piece of Giffords' skull to give the brain room to swell. It's likely that the bullet that pierced her brain also shattered the bone, experts said.
Cohen, who is not involved in Giffords' care but is familiar with news reports about her progress, said surgeons usu
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