TUCSON, Ariz. - Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband says he is "extremely hopeful" that she will make a full recovery in a matter of months.
Mark Kelly said at a news conference Thursday that his wife "is a fighter like nobody else that I know" and that her family is hoping that she will be transferred to a Houston facility where she can begin extensive mental and physical rehabilitation, a move that may come as early as today.
Giffords (D-Ariz.) is recovering from a bullet wound to the brain. Her transition from an intensive care unit to a rehab center is based on research, which shows the sooner rehab starts, the better patients recover.
Kelly predicted that she would walk back into the hospital soon, and thank everyone who took care of her. "In two months, you'll see her walking through the front door of this building," he said.
Once Giffords leaves the hospital, she will be taken to the airport for a flight aboard a medical plane to Houston, where Kelly lives and works as an astronaut.
Giffords' progress was evident Wednesday as she stood on her feet with assistance from medical staff. Her husband said it was an important moment.
Yesterday, doctors said she has also scrolled through an iPad, has been able to pick out different colored objects and has moved her lips. They are unsure about whether she is mouthing words, nor do they know how much she is able to see.
Her husband believes she has made attempts to speak and can recognize those around her."I can just look in her eyes and tell," Kelly said. "She is very aware of the situation."
New hope for her recovery comes every day, Kelly said.
"Every time we interact with her, there's something quite inspiring," he said.
Doctors said they planned next to expose her to some sunlight. Wednesday, after standing with assistance and being helped to a chair, she was able to look out toward the Catalina mountains, they said.
Despite the steady progress, Giffords has a long road to recovery. Doctors are not sure what, if any, disability she will have.
During rehabilitation she will have to relearn how to think and plan. It's unclear whether she is able to speak. And while she is moving both arms and legs, it's uncertain how much strength she has on her right side.
A gunman shot Giffords and 18 other people Jan. 8 as she met with constituents outside a grocery store in Tucson. Six people died. The wounded survivors, except Giffords, have been released from hospitals.