US & Canada

Giffords moved to rehab centre as condition improves

Mark Kelly watches Mr Obama's State of the Union address at Ms Giffords' bedside
Image caption Ms Giffords' husband watched Mr Obama's speech at her bedside

US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has been moved to a rehabilitation centre from an intensive care hospital room.

The move in Houston, Texas, heralded as an indication of her continued recovery, came after her condition was upgraded from "serious" to "good".

Her doctors are expected to brief the press on her progress on Wednesday.

The 40-year-old Arizona Democrat was shot in the head in an attack on a constituency meeting on 8 January. Six people were killed and a dozen hurt.

Jared Loughner, 22, is in custody awaiting trial for the shooting in the city of Tucson.

He has pleaded not guilty to three attempted murder charges; more state and federal charges are expected to be brought against him.

Non-verbal interaction

On Wednesday Ms Giffords was moved to TIRR Memorial Hermann - another facility at the Houston hospital, as a news helicopter followed the ambulance's short journey from overhead.

Ms Giffords had been kept in intensive care since she arrived at the hospital last Friday from a hospital in Tucson, Arizona, near where she was shot.

Doctors said she had moved limbs on her left side and shown good muscle tone, that she was aware of her surroundings and was interacting non-verbally with doctors and family members.

Part of Ms Giffords' skull has been removed to accommodate swelling on her brain.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama hailed Ms Giffords in his State of Union address on Tuesday night.

"As we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of the empty chair in this chamber, and pray for the health of our colleague," he said.

Ms Giffords' congressional office released a photograph of her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, watching the speech at her bedside in hospital.

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