THE husband of Gabriel Giffords, who was shot in the head during the Arizona gun attacks, last night said that his wife has improved so much that she has been able to smile and give him a neck massage from her hospital bed.
Doctors have been taken aback by the extraordinary recovery of Ms Giffords and yesterday's revelation by her husband Mark Kelly is sure to give them more food for thought as the bullet that hit her passed through her brain.
"She knows that he's there, and from what we can tell from the fixation of her eyes, she is interacting with him," Dr Lynn Polanski said.
By fixation, Dr Polanski meant that Ms Giffords' eyes were focusing, although it's not clear how much she can see and doctors won't know that until they talk to her.
Ms Giffords still cannot speak, because of a tube in her throat that is helping her breathe.
"She cannot vocalise, but she certainly can mouth words when she's ready to do that," said Dr Randall Friese.
Mr Kelly also told doctors he saw his wife smile. "Sometimes people see what they want to see, but if he says she's smiling, I buy it," Dr Friese said.
Besides the tracheotomy for breathing, congresswoman Giffords also had a feeding tube inserted.
And doctors successfully performed surgery on her eye socket to remove bone fragments to relieve pressure on her eye.
There were no complications from the surgery, said Dr Michael Lemole.
Mr Kelly said his wife was now able to move around well enough that she gave him a back rub from her hospital bed.
"It is so typical of her. She's in the ICU. You know, gone through this traumatic injury. And she spent 10 minutes giving me a neck massage."
Mr Kelly explained. "I keep tellin' her. I'm like, 'Gabby, you're in the ICU. You know, you don't need to be doin' this'. But it's so typical of her that no matter how bad the situation might be for her, you know, she's lookin' out for other people."
The gesture seemed to comfort his wife and showed that she was improving and that her spirit and their personal bond remained strong, he said.
Mr Kelly also said he would be willing to meet with the parents of suspect Jared Loughner.
Mr Kelly, who has two teenage daughters from a previous marriage, said they had to be hurting.
Mr Loughner (22) tried to assassinate Ms Giffords on January 8 and opened fire on a crowd gathered for a public event she was holding outside a Tucson supermarket, authorities say.
Six people were killed and Giffords and 12 others were wounded.