Shot US politician moved to recovery centre

A US Congresswoman shot in the head two weeks ago was being transferred to a rehabilitation centre in Texas yesterday as she recovers from her horrific injuries.

Family members say Democratic Rep Gabrielle Giffords has been making progress nearly every day in her recovery from a bullet wound to the brain.

She will continue her recovery at the Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston.

She was transported in an ambulance with a police escort to the local air force base where she was due to fly on to Houston.

Ms Giffords has undergone a series of operations since the attack and her condition has now stabilised, enabling her to travel to the rehabilitation centre.

Specialists say she still has a long route to recovery and are not sure what disability she will have.

Doctors ticked off markers of her continuing improvement. She scrolled through an iPad, picked out different coloured objects and moved her lips.

They are unsure whether she is mouthing words, nor do they know how much she is able to see.

Staff at University Medical Centre in Tucson have taken their patient to a balcony at the hospital, where she breathed in the fresh air and felt the sun, trauma surgeon Peter Rhee said.

"I saw the biggest smile she could gather," he said. "We are very happy to have her enjoying the sunshine of Arizona."

Her husband, Houston-based astronaut Mark Kelly, believes she has tried to speak and can recognise those around her.

"I can just look in her eyes and tell," Kelly said at a final briefing at the hospital.

"She is very aware of the situation." Yesterday he tweeted: "GG going to next phase of her recover today. Very grateful to the docs and nurses at UMC, Tucson PD, Sheriffs Dept....Back in Tucson ASAP!"

Kelly said he hopes she will make a full recovery.

"Congresswoman Giffords is a fighter," her aide CJ Karamargin said.

"She's as tough as nails. She's communicated with her husband in positive ways," he added, calling it a sign that she'll be "back very soon. There's no question about it."

The doctors who will help her offered a more sober outlook. "Not everyone always gets 100 per cent restoration, but we help them to get to a new normal," said Carl Josehart, chief executive of the rehabilitation hospital that will be the Arizona Congresswoman's home for the next month or two.

Earlier this week, it was reported she had stood up for the first time, aided by staff. It remains unclear if she is able to speak. And while she is moving both arms and legs, it's uncertain how much strength she has on her right side. The bullet passed through the left side of her brain, which controls the right side of the body.

A gunman shot Ms Giffords and 18 other people on January 8 as she met constituents outside a grocery store in Tucson. Six people died including a judge and a nine-year-old girl and the others wounded. All survivors, except Ms Giffords, have been released from hospital.

The suspect in the attack, Jared Loughner, 22, is being held in custody. His motives remain unknown but investigations are continuing.

He was indicted earlier this week on three counts of attempting to kill federal officials, including Ms Giffords, in what is expected to be a lengthy court process.

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