You are hereMSNBC: Doctors give Giffords go-ahead to attend husband's launch

MSNBC: Doctors give Giffords go-ahead to attend husband's launch

Wounded congresswoman 'medically able' to go to Florida; will return to Texas after liftoff

April 25, 2011- Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is set to reach an important milestone this week when she ventures from her Houston rehabilitation hospital for the first time to watch her astronaut husband rocket into space history.

Giffords and her doctors set the Cape Canaveral, Fla., trip as a goal early on in her rehabilitation. It was the hope of her husband, Mark Kelly, too as he trained to lead NASA's next-to-last space shuttle flight.

On Monday, doctors at TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital confirmed the congresswoman will fly to Florida to watch Kelly command the space shuttle Endeavour when it makes its final flight to the International Space Station.

The doctors said Giffords is "medically able" to travel and that they view the trip as part of her rehabilitation from a Jan. 8 gunshot wound to the head. The congresswoman was wounded in a mass shooting that killed six people in Tucson, Ariz.

It seems an extraordinary accomplishment now, that she would be able to attend the liftoff and that Kelly would feel comfortable leaving her side to fly into space. The launch is set Friday afternoon, and President Barack Obama and his wife and two daughters will be there too. However, it's unclear whether they'll sit with Giffords.

Kelly reported his wife said "awesome" and fist-pumped when doctors told her she could attend the launch, according to a transcript of an interview with CBS's Katie Couric that will be broadcast Monday on the Evening News.

For brain injured patients like Giffords, goals and outings are key to rehab. Setting goals helps patients work toward something tangible, doctors say, while trips and outings can be used to reintroduce them to the community and see how they interact in different situations.

"We routinely allow patients outside visits as part of their rehabilitation," said Dr. Gerard Francisco, lead physician of the brain injury rehabilitation team and chief medical officer at TIRR. Francisco also is chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School.

Attending the launch is an "opportune time" for Giffords to continue her therapy progression, he added in a statement.



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