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Arizona Shooting Spree Aftermath: Recovery from Brain Injury

The rapid response of the Tucson, Arizona medical team saved the lives of a dozen people shot in a gunman’s rampage. Among the injured was U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who had been shot in the head. This week, neurologist Richard C. Senelick, M.D., gives us a peek into the challenges Representative Giffords will face as she recovers from such a severe brain injury (“What Will Gabrielle Giffords’ Recovery Look Like).

According to the article, the bullet traveled through the left side of Rep. Giffords’ brain. But, her doctors also pointed out that:

…the damage is not done just by the bullet passing through the brain but also by the shock wave or “cavitation effect” that damages the brain tissue around the bullet track.

People with brain injuries can face numerous disabilities, some quite unexpected. There are three categories of potential problems:

  1. Physical Impairments, including seizures, paralysis, loss of feeling, problems with speech or swallowing, and fatigue.
  2. Cognitive Disturbances, or problems with thinking. These include difficulty with memory, attention, concentration, planning, judgment, learning new things, and communication.
  3. Behavioral Disturbances, or personality changes. Common behavioral issues include irritability, depression, verbal or physical outbursts. Perhaps the most difficult to deal with is something called “inappropriate behavior,” which is like losing your social censor—the person does or says whatever comes to mind, without any thought of consequences.

This brief overview is just a slice of what Rep. Giffords will face. Her recovery will be long and unpredictable. After she leaves the acute care hospital, she’ll be transferred to a rehabilitation facility where she will learn to take back her life. As Dr. Senelick says:

… [it is] difficult to predict Representative Giffords’ future…. I am frequently gratified by the impressive recoveries that many patients make after extensive rehabilitation efforts.

Like the rest of the world, all of us at HensonFuerst Attorneys send our best wishes to all the Arizona shooting victims and their families, and condolences to the families of those who died. It was a senseless act that stunned the rational world. There are no words… only prayers.

To read the full article, click here: What Will Gabrielle Giffords’ Recovery Look Like, by Richard C. Senelick, M.D.

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