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Gabrielle Giffords looks great in first photos, though full mental recovery less certain

June 13, 2011 |  7:24 am

Gabrielle Giffords with her mother Gloria Giffords, May 17 in Houston

Gabrielle Giffords' Facebook friends got the first peek at the post-op congresswoman who was shot in the head during an assassination attempt Jan. 8.Gabrielle Giffords May 17

The shooting, which killed six others including a federal judge and wounded 13, shocked the nation and prompted an outpouring of support and sympathy for the Tucson Democratic representative and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

For previous photos of the congresswoman and her husband, click on the Related links below.

While the photos, taken May 17 at her Houston rehab facility, show a strong smile, Giffords' staff has reported that she is having trouble communicating, using sentence fragments and gestures.

And her return to Congress is in doubt. In such brain injuries most of a patient's recovery occurs during the first year. Tentative plans call for her hospital release within the next month.

The alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, has been deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial for the moment.

RELATED:

First photos from Giffords' hospital room

Gabrielle Giffords' first waking moments: eyewitness report from the hospital

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: P.K. Weis / southwestphotobank.com (Giffords in a Houston rehab facility, May 17, with her mother Gloria).

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