Giffords' Neurosurgeon says "No Change," and That's Good News

Giffords' Neurosurgeon says "No Change," and That's Good News

At a press brefiing at University Medical Center (UMC) that just concluded, the neurosurgeon treating Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said there is no change in her condition, and that “at this phase in the game no change is good, she is still following those basic commands.”

Dr. Michael Lemole reported that there is no progression of brain swelling and each day there is no increase “we are slightly more optimistic.” He and Dr. Peter Rhee, chief of trauma at UMC, explained that brain swelling usually peaks in the third day, and today is day two of her post-operative phase. Dr. Lemole cautioned, however, that it can be as long as 10 days.

Dr. Rhee said that there are eight patients still at UMC: 5 in serious condition, 2 in good condition, and one in critical condition (Rep. Giffords). The other two patients who were brought to UMC have been discharged.

Dr. Rhee emphasized that trauma care is more than just healing physical wounds, that emotional care is also very important. The hospital deals with the patient as a whole. He pointed out that some of the patients had lost loved ones in the shooting and the hospital was providing medical care for depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other emotional challenges.

Dr. Lemole declined to go into any specific details about how responsive Rep. Giffords is to commands or what commands she is responding to or other details about her condition. She is on a ventilator and unable to speak; Dr. Rhee said that it normally is 4-5 days before a ventilator would be removed in circumstances like this. The Congresswoman’s family is with her.

The next scheduled UMC press briefing on Rep. Giffords is scheduled for 10:00 am local time (noon EST) on Wednesday.

Editor’s note: although the statement was made at this press conference on Monday that the next briefing would be on Wednesday, the UMC did hold a briefing on Tuesday, Jan. 11. Most of the briefing was statements by family members of two of the victims. However, the Arizona Daily Star reported that doctors said that Rep. Giffords is able to breathe on her own, but remains connected to a breathing machine to aid in her recovery.

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