Rep. Giffords begins new phase of recovery

This, most recent photo of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords since she was shot, was posted to her public Facebook page by her aides early Sunday, June 12, 2011. The photo was taken May 17, 2011 at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, the day after the launch of space shuttle Endeavour and the day before she had her cranioplasty. Giffords could be released from a rehabilitation hospital in Houston sometime this month, a top aide says, offering the latest indication that the Arizona congresswoman is making progress in recovering from a gunshot wound to the head P.K. Weis,AP Photo/southwestphotobank.com

HOUSTON - U.S. politician Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has returned home to continue her recovery from a devastating head wound, but will make daily trips to the Houston hospital where she began to rebuild her life after a gunman shot her five months ago.

Giffords' departure Wednesday from Houston's TIRR Memorial Hermann marks a new phase in her rehabilitation.

CBS News correspondent Don Teague reports that Giffords will have 24-hour care while she's at home, but doctors say that physically, she's doing quite well. The uncertainty lies in getting her brain function back... a process which could take months, years, or even a lifetime. Whether she will ever recover enough to resume her congressional duties is still unknown.

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But doctors, her astronaut husband Mark Kelly and experts who have been observing Giffords' recovery emphasize that going home is a key milestone and could help stimulate her progress.

"Anyone who knows Gabby knows that she loves being outside," Kelly said in a statement released by the hospital. "Living and working in a rehab facility for five months straight has been especially challenging for her."

Giffords will still go to the hospital each day where she will participate in speech, music, physical and occupational therapy with the same team that has treated her since she arrived in Houston in late January.

Now, however, at the end of each day "she will be with her family," Kelly said.

The congresswoman will move to Kelly's home in League City, a suburb near the Johnson Space Center, where she will have 24-hour help from a home care assistant.

The 41-year-old was shot in the left side of the brain, the part that controls speech and communication, on Jan. 8 while meeting with constituents in Tucson. Six people were killed and 13 wounded in the attack, including the lawmaker and members of her staff.

Giffords' Chief of Staff Pia Carusone recently gave the first clear indication of how slowly Giffords is recovering. After months of optimistic, rosy reports from Giffords' doctors, staff and family, Carusone said that while the congresswoman can speak, she struggles to express complex thoughts and sentences.

A judge has declared shooting suspect Jared Loughner mentally incapable of participating in his defense and sent him to a federal facility where doctors will try to treat his condition and make it possible to put him on trial.

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