Gabrielle Giffords' journey to recovery

  • Gabrielle Giffords shot

    Giffords was shot in the head by alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner at a supermarket near Tucson where she was meeting publicly with constituents. Thirteen people were injured and six others were killed.
  • Giffords receives operation

    Giffords is taken to Tucson's University Medical Center, where Dr. Randall Friese is the first to treat her. Giffords responds to the doctor's command to squeeze his hand. Dr. Michael Lemole operated on her, removing a portion of her skull to accommodate the swelling caused by her injuries.
  • Giffords in medically induced coma

    Though Giffords remains in a medically induced coma designed to let her brain heal, doctors "adjust the level of sedation" to perform tests. Neurosurgeons say Giffords can respond to a verbal command to show two fingers, indicating that she is not paralyzed and that the portion of her brain responsible for processing such instructions is intact.
  • Giffords can move, breathe on own

    Giffords can move her arms and breathe on her own, though she still has a breathing tube "as a precaution." Dr. Peter Rhee, the trauma surgeon responsible for Giffords' care in the ICU, says she has a "101 percent chance of survival." He adds: "She will not die. She does not have that permission from me."
  • Giffords makes spontaneous movements

    At a memorial service in Tucson for victims of the shootings, President Obama notes that Giffords had opened her eyes that day. After doctors reduce her level of sedation, she is also making "spontaneous movements," such as feeling her wounds and adjusting her hospital gown.
  • Two more operations

    Doctors perform two more operations on Giffords: A tracheotomy to place a breathing tube in her neck and surgery to remove bone fragments and relieve pressure from fractures in her right eye socket.
  • Condition improves from critical to serious

    After the congresswoman is taken off a ventilator, her condition is upgraded from "critical" to "serious."
  • Giffords can stand

    A hospital spokesperson says Giffords is able to stand with help from medical staff.
  • Transferred to Houston

    The congresswoman is transferred from Tucson to the Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center Hospital in Houston.
  • Doctors remove tube

    Doctors remove a tube used to drain excess fluid from Giffords' brain.
  • Condition improves from serious to good

    Giffords is moved to the TIRR Memorial Hermann rehabilitation facility. With her recovery progressing at "lightning speed," doctors upgrade Giffords' status from "serious" to "good."
  • Giffords speaking more

    Giffords is speaking "more and more," her spokesperson says, and recently asked for toast for breakfast. "Gabby's appetite is back," her husband, Mark Kelly, writes in a post on the congresswoman's Facebook page, adding that "even though it’s hospital food — she's enjoying three meals a day."
  • Walking with help

    Giffords is walking with the help of a shopping cart, playing tic-tac-toe, and mouthing the words to songs, the congresswoman's mother wrote in an email to friends obtained by the Houston Chronicle. "As you may expect, little Miss overachiever is healing very fast," Gloria Giffords wrote.
  • Continued improvement, personality intact

    Giffords continues to improve, says Peter J. Boyer in Newsweek, but "a more measured assessment of her progress is warranted." In the early weeks of her recovery, Giffords apparently thought she had been involved in a car accident, but her husband recently told her that she had actualy been shot, according to Boyer. The congresswoman still struggles to speak, and is just beginning to formulate whole sentences. But her personality is intact.
  • Giffords can stand, long sentences frustrating

    Giffords can stand on her own and walk a little, according to The Arizona Republic. Her left side is functioning normally — it's "perfect," says Pia Carusone, the congresswoman's legislative chief of staff — and she is now left-handed. But Giffords has also begun to use her right arm and leg, which were more affected by the bullet wound to the left side of her brain. Her therapy includes pushing a grocery cart up and down hospital hallways, as well as games of bowling and indoor golf.
  • Giffords attends husband's shuttle launch

    Giffords traveled to Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch of STS-134, the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour, which was commanded by her husband Mark Kelly.
  • Giffords receives surgery to her cranium

    Giffords undergoes surgery to repair damage to her cranium and to insert a permanent tube to drain fluid from her head. Doctors had saved the portion of Giffords' skull that they removed months earlier, but they opted to use a ceramic substitute instead. They say new bone will form in the porous ceramic over time. The operation means that Giffords will no longer have to wear a helmet to protect her brain during physical therapy. "She hates the helmet," says Pia Carusone, her chief of staff.
  • Walking ability 'much improved'

    Giffords' ability to walk, though not quite back to normal, is "much improved," says C.J. Karamargin, her communications director, as quoted by The Arizona Republic. "She walks with determination." The congresswoman is also able to ride a bike with support wheels down the hospital hall. "She's ready to become an outpatient," says husband Mark Kelly, just after reuniting with Giffords after he returned from his space mission. "She's made that very clear."
  • Still struggling to communicate in full sentences

    Giffords is still struggling to communicate in complete sentences. The congresswoman relies on a combination of gesturing, facial expressions, and short phrases to express what she wants or needs. Turning complex thoughts into words is "where she's had trouble," says Pia Carusone, her chief of staff, as quoted by The Arizona Republic. It's still unclear just how much damage has been done to Giffords' brain.
  • Facebook photo posted

    The first photo of Giffords is posted on Facebook by her staff. The Arizona Democrat's hair is cropped, and she looks "vibrant and happy," despite the long rehabilitation road that lays ahead.
  • Discharged from hospital

    Giffords is discharged from the Houston hospital where she had undergone several months of rehabilitation. She will return to her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, and family in League City, Texas, where she will begin daily outpatient treatment. The hospital's chief medical officer expressed confidence in Giffords' continued improvement, saying there is no doubt she will make "significant strides in her recovery."
  • Giffords visits Tucson

    Giffords will visit Tucson for the first time since the shooting. She won't make any public appearances or grant interviews.
  • Giffords attends ceremony at Space Center

    Giffords made her first major public appearance since being shot in the head January in Tucson. Giffords attended a ceremony at the Space Center in Houston saluting her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, and the Endeavor crew. Culture Map Houston reports that after entering in a wheelchair to a standing ovation, Giffords waved to the audience, and later stood to hug her husband.
  • Giffords returns to House floor

    Giffords returned to the House floor for the first time since before she was shot to vote with the majority to pass the debt-ceiling deal.
  • Walking with a cane

    District Director Ron Barber says Giffords is walking with a cane and writing left-handed.
  • Giffords to attend ceremony for husband

    Giffords will travel to Washington to attend the military retirement ceremony for her husband, Mark Kelly, of the Navy. She is not expected to conduct any congressional business.
  • Giffords speaks with Diane Sawyer

    ABC's Diane Sawyer has an exclusive interview with Arizona
    Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark. This is Gifford's first interview since she was shot in the head in January.