Gabrielle Giffords now able to hold conversations with husband

The Arizona congresswoman continues incredible recovery and can now speak to her husband

Topics: Gabrielle Giffords, Guns,

Gabrielle Giffords now able to hold conversations with husbandFILE - In this Jan. 5, 2011 file photo, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., takes part in a reenactment of her swearing-in, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Experts say recovery for Giffords will be a long, tough journey. Patients can make remarkable progress. But experts caution that they shouldn't expect to return to exactly the way they were before, and it’s too early to know if Giffords might be able to return to Congress. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) (Credit: AP)

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ husband says he has been able to have conversations with his wife, and she continues to be positive and is working very hard at her recovery.

Mark Kelly said in an interview broadcast Monday on NBC that he can ask her questions and she can respond, and he says “the communication is coming back very quickly.”

He says she is trying so hard that her speech therapist, who only a few days ago was trying to get her to talk more, is now asking Giffords to slow down and make sure she hears the question before giving an answer.

Giffords was shot in the head Jan. 8 while meeting with constituents outside a Tucson grocery store. She began intensive rehabilitation at a Houston hospital late last month.

Giffords’ efforts to relearn how to speak have also included mouthing song lyrics, such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Happy Birthday to You,” as friends and family sang along, a newspaper reported late Sunday.

Giffords also briefly spoke with her brother-in-law Scott Kelly by telephone Sunday afternoon as he orbited aboard the International Space Station, The New York Times reported on its website.

“She said, hi, I’m good,” her chief of staff, Pia Carusone, told the paper. He is the brother of Giffords’ husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

She has also been receiving bedside briefings from aides on the recent uprising in Egypt and on last week’s decision by Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona not to seek re-election,

“We tell her everything that’s going on,” Carusone said. “Don’t get the idea she’s speaking in paragraphs, but she definitely understands what we’re saying and she’s verbalizing.”

The Times reported that an e-mail sent to friends about a week ago by Giffords’ mother said that Giffords has been doing squats and repetitive motions to build her muscles and walking through the hospital’s halls while holding onto a cart.

The 40-year-old Giffords has beaten one of her nurses at tic-tac-toe and has changed from “kind of a limp noodle” to someone who is “alert, sits up straight with good posture,” the e-mail from Gloria Giffords said.



Doctors said in late January that they planned to insert a speaking valve into her tracheostomy — a tube inserted into Giffords’ throat to assist her breathing immediately after the shooting. Her doctors have not said whether that procedure took place or whether the tube was removed since she no longer needs it.

Rehabilitation specialists say brain injury patients who regain speech typically begin to do so about four to six weeks after the incident. Several news organizations reported last week that Giffords asked for toast with her breakfast one recent morning.

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