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Doctors: Giffords' ability to walk and talk is improving

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' condition continues to improve 10 days after she was shot in the head in the Tucson mass shooting.

March 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is "making leaps and bounds" in her recovery. Doctors at a Houston hospital say just two months after she was shot in the head, Giffords' breathing tube has been removed and she has started to walk and talk in complete sentences.

Doctors provided the new details about Giffords' condition Friday, their first official updates she began intensive rehabilitation in Houston on Jan. 26.

"Her memory is good, her personality, she is doing spectacularly well," said Dr. Dong Kim, a neuroscientist at the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. "Her speech is getting very good. She is starting to walk with assistance. And if you remember where we were just six weeks ago this is a tremendous amount of progress."

Dr. Imoigele Aisiku, her neurosurgeon, called the breathing tube removal a "fist-pump" moment.

Her memory is also improving, and doctors believe she will not have lasting memory loss in the future. However, doctors say the congresswoman still has no memory of the actual shooting in Tucson that killed six people and wounded her and 12 others on Jan. 8.

"She has been told both by her husband and by us, and I think she understands," Kim said.

However, it remains unclear whether Giffords knows others were killed.

Doctors also said she is showing emotion at times, including smiles when she makes key progress.

"She has a personality that's already showing through," Kim said. "She's very upbeat, focused on getting better. She hasn't shown us depression, and she's just been very forward-looking and even with the speech she's not showing much frustration."

On Thursday, it was announced Giffords plans to attend her husband Mark Kelly's space shuttle launch next month.

The suspect, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, has pleaded not guilty in federal court.

ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.