US & Canada

Gabrielle Giffords to move to rehabilitation clinic

Gabrielle Giffords, in a handout photo
Image caption Ms Giffords has made steady progress following several rounds of surgery

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is to be moved on Friday to a rehabilitation centre, her family has said.

Ms Giffords, shot in the forehead in a mass shooting in Arizona last week, continues to recover in hospital.

Barring further medical complications, she will be moved to Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston, where her husband works for Nasa.

Jared Loughner, 22, has been jailed pending trial for the attack in Tucson, in which six were killed and 13 hurt.

"I am extremely hopeful at the signs of recovery that my wife has made since the shooting," her husband Mark Kelly, a space shuttle astronaut, said in a statement released by Ms Giffords's congressional office.

He said doctors at University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona, where his wife has undergone a series of operations, had stabilised her to the point she could move into the rehabilitation phase of recovery.

He and Ms Giffords's parents had chosen the rehabilitation clinic because of its "national reputation for treating serious penetrating brain injuries" and its relative closeness to Tucson, Mr Kelly said.

'Strength of spirit'

Meanwhile, a hospital spokeswoman said Ms Giffords had stood, aided by medical staff.

And Ms Giffords's mother has said the Democratic congresswoman has made remarkable progress since the 8 January attack at a constituency event outside a store in Tucson.

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Media captionMark Kelly said his wife was making good progress

Gloria Giffords told friends in an e-mail that her daughter had scrolled through photographs on her husband's iPhone and had begun to look at "get well" cards and pages from a large-print book while in her hospital room, the New York Times reported.

"It's good news for all of us and for all the people who have been praying for wisdom and strength for the surgeons and others who have been helping her," Stephanie Aaron, Ms Giffords's rabbi at Congregation Chaverim in Tucson, told the Associated Press news agency.

"It's nothing short of a miracle, but it's also Gabby's will to fight. It's her strength of spirit."

Mr Loughner was indicted on Wednesday on three counts of attempting to kill federal officials, relating to Ms Giffords and two of her aides wounded in the assault.

The indictment does not include a charge in the death of John Roll, a federal judge. The Arizona US attorney described the initial indictment as the beginning of federal legal action against Mr Loughner.

State charges are also likely to follow.