Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords yesterday released the first photos of herself since she was shot in the head. She chose to publicize the photos via her Facebook page by her aides.
These are the only photos of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to be released since she was shot in the head in January. In one she is alone and smiling at the camera, her hair trimmed short with the skin on the side of her head slightly discoloured but with no clear sign of any scarring. In the other, she is sitting with a woman, her friend.
Within hours, the two photos had prompted almost 3,000 “Likes” and more than 1,000 comments among them, “It is great to see the healing and smiling. Prayers have been sent your way many times.” Another fan wrote, “Blessings, Gabrielle! I hope you feel as good as you look!”
Many comments called Giffords “inspirational” and said her progress was “incredible.”
Giffords has been in a Houston rehab facility since two weeks after the January 8th shooting in which six people were killed and thirteen others were injured. Jared Lee Loughner has pleaded not guilty to the shootings. A judge declared him incompetent to stand trial, but prosecutors hope his competency can be restored so he can answer for the charges.
The only other public glimpse of Giffords since the shooting beforte the release of these photos was April 27 as she boarded a plane to Florida to watch astronaut husband Mark Kelly launch into space. In that footage, Giffords was shown slowly but purposefully walking up the airplane’s steps.
Last month, as Kelly was orbiting Earth, doctors repaired Giffords’ skull, finally allowing her to remove the cumbersome protective helmet that her staff members say she hated. She has now made remarkable progress, requesting her favorite foods, singing her favorite songs, and relearning how to walk and talk, although she struggles to string sentences together.
Giffords’ Chief of Staff Pia Carusone said the limitations of Giffords speech have led her to a reliance on facial expressions and hand gestures to communicate.
“She is borrowing upon other ways of communicating. Her words are back more and more now, but she’s still using facial expressions as a way to express. Pointing. Gesturing,” said Carusone.
She is now able to express the basic needs and wishes but bigger and more complex thought that requires words are still problematic. Carusone said that if Giffords’ recovery were to plateau now, ‘it would not be nearly the quality of life she had before’.
“All that we can hope for is that she won’t plateau today and that she’ll keep going and that when she does plateau, it will be at a place far away from here,” she said.