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First, they’ll check her vital signs _ make sure her blood pressure and heart rate are good. Then specialists ranging from physical and occupational therapists to speech therapists and psychologists will give a slew of tests to see what she can and cannot do.

They’ll determine the strength of her legs and her ability to stand and walk; the strength of her arms, and whether she can brush her teeth or comb her hair; whether she can safely swallow on her own; how well she thinks and communicates _ not just her ability to speak but also to understand and comprehend.

While she is moving both arms and legs, it’s uncertain how much strength she has on her right side; the bullet passed through the left side of her brain, which controls the right side of the body.

Giffords will stay at Memorial Hermann until she no longer needs 24-hour medical care _ the average is one to two months. Then she can get up to five hours a day of physical and other rehab therapies on an outpatient basis, Josehart said.

“It’s hard to speculate on the trajectory or course that any one patient will have,” he said.

Sometimes, areas of the brain that seem damaged can recover, said Mark Sherer, a neuropsychologist at the rehab center.

“Some of the tissue is temporarily dysfunctional, so the patient appears very impaired very early on after the injury,” but may not be permanently damaged, he said.

Kelly said Giffords would be proud of the way Tucson has responded. Memorials continued to grow Friday outside the hospital, in front of her office and at the scene of the shooting.

“I know one of the first things Gabby is going to want to do as soon as she’s able to is start writing thank you notes,” he said.

Al Garcia came on his Harley Davidson to stand along the ambulance route as Giffords left, as people waved flags and signs.

“We want to be here to help her and show her a good farewell, and hope that she has a great recovery,” Garcia said. “It’s through all of these prayers that she’s leaving in just two weeks.”

The Tucson medical team is returning to Arizona on Friday, and nurse Tracy Culbert said they said their goodbyes. Friese, the Tucson surgeon, said it was wonderful to see the support from Tusconians.

“We love her. We’re going to miss her while she’s here, but this is where she needs to be,” he said.

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Ramit Plushnick-Masti contributed reporting from Houston. Bryan reported from Tucson, Ariz. AP aerospace writer Marcia Dunn contributed to this story from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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