Doctors say Giffords can attend launch

2011-04-26 12:34

kalahari.com

Houston - Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is set to reach an important milestone this week when she ventures from her Houston rehabilitation hospital for the first time to watch her astronaut husband rocket into space history.

Giffords and her doctors set the Cape Canaveral, Florida, trip as a goal early on in her rehabilitation. It was the hope of her husband, Mark Kelly, too as he trained to lead Nasa's next-to-last space shuttle flight.

On Monday, doctors at TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital confirmed the congresswoman will fly to Florida to watch Kelly command the space shuttle Endeavour when it makes its final flight to the International Space Station.

The doctors said Giffords is "medically able" to travel and that they view the trip as part of her rehabilitation from a January 8 gunshot wound to the head. The congresswoman was wounded in a mass shooting that killed six people in Tucson, Arizona.

It seems an extraordinary accomplishment now that she would be able to attend the liftoff and that Kelly would feel comfortable leaving her side to fly into space.

The launch is set for Friday afternoon, and President Barack Obama and his wife and two daughters will be there too. However, it's unclear whether they'll sit with Giffords.

Outing key to rehab

Kelly reported his wife said "awesome" and fist-pumped when doctors told her she could attend the launch, according to a transcript of an interview with CBS's Katie Couric that will be broadcast on Monday on the Evening News.

For brain injured patients like Giffords, goals and outings are key to rehab. Setting goals helps patients work toward something tangible, doctors say, while trips and outings can be used to reintroduce them to the community and see how they interact in different situations.

"We routinely allow patients outside visits as part of their rehabilitation," said Dr Gerard Francisco, lead physician of the brain injury rehabilitation team and chief medical officer at TIRR. Francisco also is chairperson of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston Medical School.

Attending the launch is an "opportune time" for Giffords to continue her therapy progression, he added in a statement.

It's unclear whether doctors from the Texas hospital will travel with Giffords to Florida. The last time the congresswoman flew was when she was transported on a private jet to Houston from the hospital in Tucson, Arizona, that treated her immediately after the shooting.

This time, however, her flight is not an ambulance transport and the trip will be considered another part of the intensive rehabilitation she has been undergoing since arriving in Houston in late January.

Milestone in recovery

Giffords spokesperson CJ Karamargin said the congresswoman's Florida trip is "great news".

"Attending the launch is something the congresswoman has been working toward and something that's important for her, her family and her staff," Karamargin said. "It's another significant milestone in her recovery."

ABC and CBS News initially reported on Sunday that doctors had given Giffords the green light to attend the launch.

The launch is scheduled for Friday at 15:47 local time. Kelly and his crew have been in quarantine - to prevent them from getting sick before or during the mission - since Friday and will be arriving in Cape Canaveral on Tuesday.

Kelly told Couric days ago when the interview was taped that he and his wife were a team in a Scrabble game - and won. It was the most recent glimpse into Giffords' progress, which has been tightly guarded by her family and the hospital.

Kelly said Giffords is writing with her left hand because her right side is still impaired, and she requires assistance to walk.

Daily improvement

She still speaks slowly and it takes her time to formulate thoughts and words, but he said improvement can be seen every few days or each week.

"When I get back - in a few weeks - she's going to be noticeably different than when I left. I mean I know that's the case. So it's exciting to see the improvement, day to day and week to week. It's really exciting," Kelly told Couric.

Shortly after the launch, Giffords will return to Houston, though the hospital said details about her travel arrangements will not be released.

While she is in Florida, "provisions have been made with Nasa" regarding her care, the hospital said. It remains unclear whether there will be updates on her arrival in Florida or her return to Houston.

Families view launches at Kennedy Space Centre from a restricted area, and there are no plans for Giffords to make a public appearance.

Nasa for the past few weeks has had launch management officials scouting locations and working with Giffords' staff on "whatever particular needs she would require", Kennedy Space Centre spokesperson Allard Beutel said. He referred to the congresswoman's staff for details on her requirements and schedule.

2008 launch

But, he said, this is different from Nasa's normal accommodations for astronauts' families, which usually watch lift-offs from the launch control centre's roof - an area accessible only by stairs, Beutel said.

"I don't think we've ever had this kind of situation where this level of injury occurred so close to a launch," Beutel said on Monday.

Giffords went to Kelly's last launch in 2008, when he commanded the space shuttle Discovery. The two married in 2007.

Giffords was shot while at a meet-and-greet with constituents in the parking lot of a Tucson, Arizona, shopping centre. A gunman killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Giffords.

Jared Lee Loughner, aged 22, has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the attack and is in custody.

Giffords has not been seen publicly since the shooting and has spent the past three months relearning how to speak, walk and take care of herself. She has been singing - as part of musical therapy - asking for her favourite foods and visiting with family, friends and her rabbi.

Kelly returned to training for the shuttle launch in February after taking time off to be at his wife's hospital bedside.


- AP

Read more on:    jared loughner  |  gabrielle giffords  |  us  |  space
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Fashion
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Cape Town - 16:15 PM
    Road name: Wet Weather
    RAIN across the greater Cape Town area - drive with care and use headlights - Allow Extra Tavel Time
  • Friday Kuils River - 09:28 AM
    Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound
    ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - DELAYS
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900

The Blackberry Bold Touch 9900 is as the name says...

From R2999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The day may have a fluctuating sensitive energy to begin with, but later when the Moon moves into dramatic and creative Leo you...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.