Giffords Faces Long Road to Rehabilitation

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Stay in Rehab Center Longer Than Most

Giffords had the advantage of remaining at an inpatient rehabilitation center for five months, much longer than others who don't have the same insurance coverage or financial resources.

"As a rehabilitation physician, I always want the patient to stay as long as possible as long as medical gains and improvements are being made," said Dr. Michael Huou, assistant professor of clinical neurology and neurological surgery at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles. "Unfortunately, the length of stay is generally dictated by the insurance company which typically wants the patient to be discharged home or to a [nursing home] in a much quicker time frame."

Most insurance companies also only pay for about a month of outpatient rehabilitation, but doctors believe Giffords will likely get much more than that.

No one can be sure how far she will progress, and she'll be working to recover for the rest of her life.

Brain injury rehab is a lifelong process, and she'll need to work on it every single day," said Dr. Brent Masel, national medical director of the Brain Injury Association of America.

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