'HI, I'M GOOD': As Giffords Starts To Speak, Doctors Work To Hel - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

'HI, I'M GOOD': As Giffords Starts To Speak, Doctors Work To Help Brain Rewire Itself

NEW YORK - Compared to a sleek new laptop, that three-pound mass of fatty tissue called the brain may not look like much. But when it's injured, it adapts and rewires its circuits in new ways.

That's the kind of flexibility that doctors and rehabilitation specialists hope to encourage in Gabrielle Giffords, the brain-injured Arizona congresswoman.

Details about her recovery have been thin. But members of her staff say she recently began speaking for the first time since the Jan. 8 attack by a gunman in Tucson. Brain injury patients who regain speech typically begin to do that about four to six weeks after the injury, experts say.

Last week, the Congresswoman asked for toast while having breakfast, her chief of staff told the "CBS Evening News." That was within a month of being shot in the head. The Houston Chronicle noted that doctors at TIRR Memorial Hermann have used the phrase "lightning speed" to describe her recovery thus far.

The New York Times added a number of encouraging details on Sunday night, including Giffords beating one of her nurses at a game of tic-tac-toe and using music to recover her speech:

With a group of friends and family members acting as a backup chorus, Ms. Giffords has been mouthing the lyrics to "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby." And as a surprise for her husband, who is celebrating his birthday this month, a longtime friend who has been helping her through her rehabilitation videotaped her mouthing the words to "Happy Birthday to You."

Giffords also briefly spoke with her brother-in-law Scott Kelly by telephone Sunday afternoon as he orbited aboard the International Space Station, The New York Times reported on its website.

"She said, hi, I'm good," her chief of staff, Pia Carusone, told the paper. He is the brother of Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

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