Image: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
Reuters
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was among 13 people who were also wounded in the massacre Jan. 8 outside a Safeway supermarket in Tucson.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 1/20/2011 8:27:06 AM ET 2011-01-20T13:27:06

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was reportedly able to stand with some help and look out her hospital window Wednesday, marking another milestone in her recovery as the congresswoman's family made plans to move her from the hospital and into a Texas rehabilitation center.

KVOA in Tucson first reported the news about Giffords standing up. Earlier, in a statement released by Giffords' congressional office, Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, said his wife will be moved — likely Friday barring medical issues — to TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston. Doctors say the exact timing of the move will depend on Giffords' health.

Kelly, who has been married to Giffords for three years, lives in Houston.

Giffords was gravely wounded by a gunshot to the forehead on Jan. 8 as she was meeting with constituents outside a grocery store in Tucson. The gunman shot 18 other people, killing six and wounding 12 more.

"I am extremely hopeful at the signs of recovery that my wife has made since the shooting. The team of doctors and nurses at UMC has stabilized her to the point of being ready to move to the rehabilitation phase," Kelly said.

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"Their goal — and our goal — has been to provide Gabby with the best care possible. It is for that reason that we have chosen to have her undergo rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann, which has a national reputation for treating serious penetrating brain injuries and is also in a community where I have family and a strong support network."

Kelly is scheduled to command NASA's last space shuttle flight in April, but that's uncertain now. He has been a constant presence at Giffords' bedside since rushing to Tucson after first getting word of the attack.

Video: Giffords’ big step on road to recovery (on this page)

Since then, she has been at University Medical Center in Tucson, where her condition has improved almost daily, doctors have said.

"The congresswoman's family wants to ensure she receives the best rehabilitative care possible for her type of serious penetrating brain injury," said Dr. Michael Lemole, one of the congresswoman's neurosurgeons. "As a result, they considered facilities around the country, including rehabilitation hospitals in Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago and Houston."

Dr. Jonathan Fellus, director of the brain injury program at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, N.J., said it's not surprising that Giffords could enter rehabilitation as early as two weeks after the injury.

Slideshow: Former Ariz. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (on this page)

"It's not unusual as long as she's been medically and neurologically stabilized," he said. "The sooner the better."

Earlier, in an e-mail to friends and family, Giffords' mother said that the congresswoman has started to look at get-well cards and scrolled through photos on her husband's iPhone, the New York Times reported.

Story: Giffords to relearn basic skills in Houston rehab

"Everyday Gabby improves and shows higher levels of comprehension and complex actions," the newspaper quoted a message sent Tuesday morning as saying.

Kelly said Tuesday that the congresswoman isn't aware that six people died in the Jan. 8 shooting, including Gabe Zimmerman, one of her staff members.

Authorities say Giffords was targeted by a 22-year-old constituent who had met her at a similar event in 2007.

The shooting suspect, Jared Loughner, remains in a federal jail in Phoenix. His motive is unknown.

'True grit'
The e-mail sent by Giffords' mother said doctors were "having her move limbs on command," the Times reported.

"So now comes the 'true grit' part... and won't be a stroll in a park although Mark predicts she'll be up and walking around in 2 weeks," her mother wrote.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

Video: Giffords’ big step on road to recovery

  1. Transcript of: Giffords’ big step on road to recovery

    ANN CURRY, co-host: Well, let's turn now to Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords . She's reached another milestone in her recovery. On Wednesday, we're told, she was able to stand for the first time since being shot in the head. NBC 's Miguel Almaguer is outside Tucson 's University Medical Center with the latest on this story. Hey, Miguel , good morning.

    MIGUEL ALMAGUER reporting: Ann , good morning. In just a few hours we'll hear from the congresswoman's husband, Mark Kelly . This comes after the suspect was indicted and a big step forward in his wife's recovery. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is defying the odds. With the help of doctors, Wednesday she stood on her feet for the first time since the shooting. From her window, she could see the mountains of Tucson .

    Dr. PETER RHEE (University Medical Center, Tucson): There's no doubt in my mind, really it lifted up her spirits. She's got the strength to stand on her own, lift her head up.

    ALMAGUER: Just 12 days ago, Giffords was shot in the face, but now she could be released Friday. She's ready for rehab and will go to this Houston hospital.

    Dr. MICHAEL LEMOLE Jr. (Chief of Neurosurgery, University of Arizona): There's no question that the most difficult part of her recovery for her has yet to come. She's going to have to work very hard.

    ALMAGUER: Giffords has had plenty of support. Get-well signs and cards blanket the hospital lawn. Some have even been brought into her hospital room. Her family says she's held some of the cards in her hand. Nine-year-old Isaac Saldana didn't just write to Giffords , he sent her $2.85, money raised by selling some of his toys.

    Mr. ISAAC SALDANA: I said I'm thinking about her and her in the hospital, so I just wanted to like do a good cause and then get -- raise money to send it to her.

    ALMAGUER: Giffords will be the last victim to leave the hospital. This as other survivors speak out for the first time .

    Ms. DORIS TUCKER (Wife of Tucson Shooting Victim): The noise was horrendous. There was like a whirlwind and casings flying.

    ALMAGUER: Doris and Jim Tucker were talking to Giffords outside the Safeway when the shooting began.

    Mr. JIM TUCKER (Tucson Shooting Victim): I felt like I was -- someone hit me with a sledge hammer right to my collar bone and I was flat on my back, on the ground.

    ALMAGUER: Bullets struck Jim in the shoulder and leg. Doris escaped unharmed. As we reported Wednesday, much of the shooting was captured on surveillance cameras.

    Unidentified Man: From a police perspective, we clearly have a case that is solved.

    ALMAGUER: The video is said to be gruesome. It has not been released, but the Pima County Sheriff 's lead investigator has seen it.

    Man: What I remember, though, was the deliberation and the purposeful approach that Jared Loughner had as he walked up to Gabrielle Giffords .

    ALMAGUER: Late Wednesday, a federal grand jury formally indicted Jared Lee Loughner . Investigators say Giffords was clearly the target of the attack, but today she's one step closer to leaving the hospital. Jared Lee Loughner faces three charges of attempted murder, including the attempted assassination of the congresswoman. Murder charges will follow. Prosecutors will almost certainly seek the death penalty. Ann :

Photos: Former Ariz. Representative Gabrielle Giffords

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  1. Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman who was shot and left handicapped after a gunman opened fire at an event in Tucson, Ariz., and her husband retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly prepare to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 2013. (Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, leave the Newtown Municipal Building in Newtown, Conn. on Jan. 4, 2013. Giffords met with Newtown officials on Friday afternoon before heading to visit with families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. (Michelle Mcloughlin / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Gabrielle Giffords waves to the Space Shuttle Endeavor with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly as it flies over Tucson, Ariz. on its way to Los Angeles, on Sept. 20, 2012. Kelly served as Endeavour's last space commander months after Giffords survived serious head injuries because of a 2011 shooting. (P.K. Weis / Southwest Photo Bank via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Gabrielle Giffords blows a kiss after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance during the final session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. on Sept. 6, 2012. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Gabrielle Giffords stands on top of a peak in the French Alps with her husband Mark Kelly, right,, and mountain guide Vincent Lameyre, July 23, 2012. On her first trip out of the country since her injury in 2011, she rode a two-stage cable car to a station for spectacular views of Mont Blanc. (Denis Balibouse / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Ron Barber, right, celebrates his victory with Giffords, left, prior to speaking to supporters at a post election event, Tuesday, June 12, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz. Barber, Giffords' former district director, won her seat in a special election after she resigned to focus on her recovery. (Ross D. Franklin / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, read Rep. Gabriell Giffords resignation speech on the House floor on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012. The day after President Obama's State of the Union speech, Giffords formally offered her resignation to Speaker John Boehner. Weeping, Shultz applauded the strength of her friend and colleague, "I'm so proud of my friend." (MSNBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. President Barack Obama hugs retiring Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as the president arrives to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. (Pool / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., left, and Pelosi, right, posing with Giffords husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly of the Navy, at his retirement ceremony with Vice President Joe Biden in the Old Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. (House Leader Nancy Pelosi's office / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords returns to the House for the first time since she was shot, making a dramatic entrance on Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, during a crucial debt vote. She drew loud applause and cheers from surprised colleagues. (NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords poses for a photo the day after the launch of NASA space shuttle Endeavour and the day before she had her cranioplasty surgery, outside TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital May 17, in Houston, Texas. Aides of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords posted two recent photos of the congresswoman to her public Facebook page, the first since the January 8 shooting that killed six people and wounded a dozen others. (P.K. Weis / Giffords Campaign / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Emergency workers use a stretcher to move Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head outside a shopping center in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. (James Palka / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. In this Jan. 5, 2011 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner re-enacts the swearing in of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Susan Walsh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Rep. Giffords, left, speaks during a candidates debate with Republican candidate Jesse Kelly at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., on Oct. 18, 2010. Kelly is an Iraq War veteran and was the Tea Party favorite for the 8th congressional district seat. (Joshua Lott / The New York Times via Redux Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords meets with constituents in Douglas, Ariz., in 2010. Giffords, 40, took office in January 2007, emphasizing issues such as immigration reform, embryonic stem-cell research, alternative energy sources and a higher minimum wage. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Rep. Giffords speaks during a press conference in Washington, D.C., where members of Congress called on the President to secure the border with the National Guard on April 28, 2010. (James Berglie / Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. This picture provided by the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on Monday, March 22, 2010, shows damage to her office in Tucson, Ariz. The congressional office was vandalized a few hours after the House vote overhauling the nation's health care system. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., center, gives a tour of Statuary Hall in the Capitol to Shuttle Discovery STS-124 astronauts Mission Specialist Akihiko Hoshide, of Japan, and her husband, Commander Mark Kelly, on Thursday, July 17, 2008. (Bill Clark / Roll Call Photos) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. From right. Rep. Ken Calvert, Rep. Dennis Moore, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and Rep. Heath Shuler, attend a House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security hearing on current and proposed employment eligibility verification systems on May 6, 2008. The hearing provided a forum for lawmakers on both sides of the immigration debate, focusing on a system to verify the legal status of workers and job applicants. (Scott J. Ferrell) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Gabrielle Giffords with U.S. Navy Cmdr. Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut, at their wedding in Amado, Ariz., on Nov. 10, 2007. Kelly's twin brother, also an astronaut, is a commander on the International Space Station. "We have a unique vantage point here aboard the International Space Station. As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not," said Scott Kelly of the tragedy that befell his sister-in-law. (Norma Jean Gargasz for The New York Times / Redux Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Representatives-elect including Dean Heller, top right, and Gabrielle Giffords, next to Heller, prepare for the freshman class picture for the 110th Congress on the House Steps on Nov. 14, 2006. (Tom Williams / Roll Call Photos) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords rides horseback in 2006. In an interview with NPR last year, she recalled working with horses during her adolescence in Tucson. "I loved cleaning out the stalls, and I did that in exchange for riding lessons. And I continue to ride most of my life. And I learned a lot from horses and the stable people ... I think it provided good training, all of that manure-shoveling, for my days in politics ahead." (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. A page entitled, "Just do it!" in La Semeuse, the Scripps College yearbook in 1993. The photo at right shows Giffords in traditional Mennonite clothing. That same year, she won a Fulbright award to study Mennonites and other Anabaptist groups in Northern Mexico. Gifford's senior thesis was titled "Wish Books and Felt-Tipped Fantasies: The Sociology of Old Colony Mennonite Drawings." (Scripps College) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Gabrielle Giffords' senior portrait from the 1993 Scripps College yearbook. Giffords double-majored in Latin American studies and sociology. A Dean's List student, Gifford won several awards during her time at Scripps. (Scripps College) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Gabrielle Giffords, right, laughs with her mom, Gloria Kay Fraser Giffords, in a photo published in the Scripps College yearbook. Gabrielle received a B.A. in Sociology and Latin American history from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif. in 1993. (Scripps College) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. University High School portrait of Gabrielle Giffords, class of 1988. Dr. John Hosmer, taught history to the future lawmaker. He tells msnbc.com, "Gabrielle sat in the front row. She was inquisitive ... She was a very mature person from the moment she walked in the door." (University High School) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: US Senate holds hearing on Gun Control
    Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA
    Above: Slideshow (26) Former Ariz. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
  2. Image:
    Morry Gash / AP
    Slideshow (45) Mourning follows deadly shooting in Arizona

Interactive: Giffords' shooting

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