Traumatic brain injury. When congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords got shot -- the bullet went through the back of her head and exited the front. How might that impact her recovery, and what are doctors doing now to limit the damage?
Dr. Ramsis Ghaly, Neurosurgeon, Ghaly Neurosurgical Associates: "Gunshot wound to the head is, 90% die, but 83% when they die, they die the first two days."
Dr. Ramsis Ghaly: "This is the path of the bullet, the bullet is tiny but it creates all of this ... and the white that you see is hemorrhage. This is the back, this is the front, and you can see the bullet with the high energy and cavitation it would create."
Getting medical care within a half hour, doctors removed a portion of her skull to allow room for the brain to swell.
Dr. Ghaly: "You try to take a big piece of the skull out, big piece, and what you see the brain inside will come out and instead of pushing inside it goes outside."
Now doctors continue to administer drugs to put the congresswoman into a coma, limiting brain activity so the cells have a chance to repair.
Dr. Ghaly: "I'm going to suppress the brain function so every energy the brain has, it goes to maintain the cells."
Dr. Michael Lemole, former University of Illinois at Chicago neurosurgeon, is leading the congresswoman's care.
Dr. Michael Lemole, Chief of Neurosurgery, University Medical Center, Tucson: "At this phase in the game, no change is good, and we have no change."
She has responded, giving thumbs up and grabbing her breathing tube.
Dr. Ghaly: "After about the end of the week, then you start the aggressive rehab." Dina: "So they'll be wanting to get her out of bed?" Dr. Ghaly: "Yes, up out of bed."
Then doctors will have a good sense of any potential deficits from a left brain inury.
Dr. Ghaly: "It would be weakenss in the right side, it would be vision issues and cognitive issues. In the front is personality and emotions."
When patients survive the first two days -- the prognosis is good. Although there is still a risk for swelling and infection. The next milestone is the five-day mark. Then it could take up to five years for a full recovery from this devastating injury.
To learn more about Dr. Ghaly, go to www.ghalyneurosurgeon.com
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