The Memorial Hermann medical team overseeing the care of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords have affirmed that she is "medically able" to travel to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida this week to view the historic final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour that will be piloted by her husband Cdr. Mark Kelly.
Rep. Giffords was given the green light to travel to Florida last week after her doctors determined that she is well enough to leave TIRR Memorial Hermann, where she has been undergoing rehabilitation since late January. Medical preparations have been made to accommodate Giffords' travels to view the launch and physicians believe there should be no complications.
"Attending the launch is an opportune time for her to continue her therapy progression," said Dr. Gerard Francisco, the lead physician of the brain injury rehabilitation team and chief medical officer, TIRR Memorial Hermann and chair, department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School. "We routinely allow patients outside visits as part of their rehabilitation. Her attending the launch is a goal that we were working toward, and we have achieved that end. She has made remarkable progress in her rehabilitation, and we saw no reason why she could not travel safely to Florida."
Due to privacy concerns and in deference to the family wishes, Memorial Hermann cannot release details regarding her travel arrangements to Florida. However, doctors did say that provisions have been made with NASA regarding Giffords' care while in Florida. Giffords will return to Houston to resume her rehabilitation, shortly after the launch.
"Medically, there is no reason she could not travel safely to Florida to participate in this incredible event with her husband," said Dr. Dong Kim, director of Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann and professor and chair, department of Neurosurgery, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School. "This was not an ambulance transport. She is medically able and well enough to travel without additional risks."
During her stay at TIRR Memorial Hermann, Congresswoman Giffords has been under the care of a multidisciplinary team, that also includes Dr. Imoigele Aisiku, director of Neurocritical Care, Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann and associate professor and vice chairman of Critical Care, department of Neurosurgery at UTHealth, and Dr. Bryan Oh, neurotrauma surgeon, Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann, and assistant professor of neurotrauma, UTHealth Medical School.
Founded in 1959, TIRR Memorial Hermann is one of very few hospitals in the country designated as a model system for traumatic brain injury by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. It has been named to the "Best Hospitals" list by U.S. News and World Report Magazine for 21 years, every year the list has been published.
TIRR Memorial Hermann is also home to one of the top residency programs in neurological physical therapy, more than 57,000 outpatient visits occur annually at TIRR Memorial Hermann, reflecting the knowledge, compassion and dedication of physicians, nurses, researchers and staff involved in direct patient care.