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Giffords returns to Houston rehab hospital

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has been transferred back to her rehabilitation hospital in Houston after recovering from last week's surgery at a nearby hospital.

The 40-year-old Arizona Democrat had been recuperating at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center since surgery May 18 to implant a synthetic replacement for a portion of her skull. Doctors also gave Giffords a permanent shunt to relieve fluid buildup in her brain.

Part of Giffords' skull was removed Jan. 8, the same day she was shot in the head in a shooting in Tucson that left six dead and 12 others wounded.

During last week's surgery, the missing bone was replaced with a piece of molded hard plastic with tiny screws.

The Arizona Daily Star says Giffords is back at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research Memorial Hermann rehabilitation hospital, which is in the same complex as Texas Medical Center. She's been undergoing intensive therapy to recover speech and movement since late January.

Doctors were concerned Giffords might develop a post-surgical infection, but she's doing well and that hasn't happened, said Giffords' chief of staff, Pia Carusone.

Giffords is now working toward a new goal -- moving to outpatient rehabilitation therapy. She expects to do that in Houston, to continue with the medical team at Memorial Hermann, the Daily Star said.

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