Giffords making progress, but outpatient rehab is 'far off'

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) is now left-handed, her handwriting looks different and her hair is short — about two inches long.

She speaks using single words or declarative phrases and is frustrated by longer sentences.

These and other details about Giffords's recovery were reported by the Arizona Republic this weekend, in a long piece examining the lawmaker's condition.

She hasn't been seen since the January shooting, and "there are rumors of a $200,000 reward should paparazzi capture a current photo."

But doctors put her in the top 5 percent of patients recovering from this injury, and her husband, space shuttle commander Mark Kelly, told the paper, "I can't say I notice improvement every day but I can every few days."

Giffords, who has been cleared by doctors to attend the April 29 launch of NASA's Endeavour, is working on physical and speech recovery. In May, doctors will repair her skull with a cranial implant as the portion removed by Tucson doctors — a piece a little larger than a man's palm — was frozen and preserved, but is partially contaminated.

While Giffords knows six other people died in the shooting, she still doesn't know their identities.

Kelly wants "her to be able to process the emotions without fighting so hard for the words."

Her doctors say "outpatient rehab is far off."

Giffords's chief of staff, Pia Carusone, said: "It's unfair to set expectations on her in any way. We all want the best. We want her to make the best recovery. Would a triumphant return be amazing? Yes. But first of all, her close friends and family will take anything."