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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET



Giffords’ Dr: All Indicators Showing Green

January 10, 2011 - 9:49 AM | by: Mike Tobin

Swelling of the brain is the greatest threat to a victim of traumatic brain injury.  However, the nature of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ injury made her case unique.

According to doctors the bullet entered the back of her head, traveled the length of the left hemisphere of her brain and exited her forehead breaking away some of the skull.

As horrible as that sounds, doctors say the broken skull relieved the pressure, which could have cut off circulation to her brain and killed the congresswoman.

“There was no pressure there from the beginning,” says Dr. Peter Rhee, trauma director at Tuscon’s University Medical Center.  Doctors removed the broken parts of her skull a little bit more and left the bones off to give space for the brain to swell.

Just like when you injure your knee or another body part, after 48 hours the swelling begins to subside. “All the indicators are showing green,” says Rhee as he continued his message of optimism.

Rhee still could make no assessment about the extent to which Giffords will recover. “That will just take time,” he said. “Weeks and weeks.”