Docs say hard to predict brain damage in Giffords

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Doctors say they are optimistic about Rep. Gabrielle Giffords‘ odds. But it can take weeks to months to learn the level of brain damage she might suffer from the gunshot blast to the head on Saturday.

Dr. Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon in Tucson where she was shot, said the bullet traveled the length of the left side of the Arizona congresswoman’s brain, from back to front. That offers a better outlook than if it had entered the brain’s center or both sides of the brain.

She is also responding nonverbally to commands from doctors, another good sign. Dr. Michael Lemole, her neurosurgeon, said that implies “a very high level of functioning.” For now, Giffords is in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator so she cannot speak.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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