The encouraging medical updates out of Tucson indicate that Giffords has a high level of motor and emotional function, experts say.
"The fact that she is able to communicate, that she is able to stand and walk, the fact that she is moving both hands is a good thing," said Dr. Kester Nedd, an associate professor of neurology and director of neuro-rehabilitation at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
"Motor function is a very strong predictor of outcome," he said. In addition, her ability to express emotion and interpret human interactions, which are some of the highest levels of cognitive function, means her chances of recovery are very good, Nedd added.
Giffords was one of 18 people shot by a gunman outside a Tucson supermarket. Six people died. On Wednesday, a federal grand injury indicted the suspect, Jared Loughner, 22, of Tucson, on charges of attempting to assassinate Giffords and trying to kill two of her aides.
Giffords' rehabilitation will take place at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. This is one of the best rehabilitation centers in the country, said Dr. Steve Williams, chief and chairman of the department of rehabilitation medicine at Boston Medical Center and professor and chairman of rehabilitation medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.
"The key things with neurological injuries are when people begin to show signs of recovery very early," Williams said Thursday. "Very early in the ER she was able to squeeze the physician's hand and she has responded to simple commands, and yesterday she was standing."
"The issue is really going to be cognitive function, which is complex reasoning and abstract thinking," added Williams, who was not involved in her treatment but has studied the injury reports so far made public.
Physically, Giffords is making great progres
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