Doctors say they are optimistic about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' odds. But it can take weeks to months to learn the level of brain damage she might suffer from the gunshot blast to the head Saturday.
Dr. Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon in Tucson where she was shot, said the bullet traveled the length of the left side of the Arizona congresswoman's brain, from back to front. That offers a better outlook than if it had entered the brain's center or both sides of the brain.
She is also responding non-verbally to commands from doctors,
another good sign. Dr. Michael Lemole, her neurosurgeon, said that
implies "a very high level of functioning." He says surgeons worked to reduce pressure from swelling in the brain by removing bone fragments.
For now, Giffords is in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator so she cannot speak.
Six people were killed in the attack and 14 wounded, including the congresswoman.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)