Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) is making significant strides toward a full recovery from a gunshot wound to the head she suffered in early January, her doctors said Friday. 

Doctors briefed the press for the first time since Jan. 26, when Giffords moved from a Tucson, Ariz,. hospital to the TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston to begin intensive rehabilitation and to be closer to her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.


"She is making leaps and bounds in terms of neurological recovery," said Dr. Dong Kim, director of the neuroscience institute at Memorial Hermann. "Her memory is good, her personality. She is doing spectacularly well." 

But even though Kim described Giffords's memory and cognition as good, doctors said that the congresswoman's husband had to tell her she was shot and that she does not remember the incident.

Giffords's doctors continue to remain optimistic about her recovery, even though she was critically wounded in the Jan. 8 shooting spree at a public event in Tucson.

The doctor's outlook came one day after reports that her family is making plans for her to attend her husband's space shuttle launch in April. Giffords has not been seen in public since she was shot.

Doctors said Friday that Giffords's speech is improving and that she is beginning to walk with assistance. They said her tracheostomy, or breathing tube, was removed this past week, which one doctor described as "a significant advancement forward for her."

Giffords's therapy sessions have been broadened to include exercises that focus on her speech and movement.

Media reports surfaced this week that doctors are preparing to carry out a procedure to replace the portion of Giffords's skull that was removed after she was shot. Kim said that procedure could take place some time in May.

Doctors have not yet decided when Giffords will be transferred to an outpatient unit, though the subject has been up for discussion.

With regards to her ability to speak, Kim said that Giffords is starting to string words together and repeat what doctors say to her, an indicator that the primary language area of her brain remains intact.

"She is already starting to speak in full sentences when she wants," said Kim. "She says things like, 'I'm tired, I want to go to bed,' just like that."

—This post was updated at 12:22 p.m.