Much of the United States was shaken last week by the announcement that Representative Gabrielle Giffords was to resign from the United States Congress. Rep. Giffords announced that her resignation would allow her to focus on recovery from the massive brain injuries she suffered over a year ago.
Rep. Giffords, who represented a portion of Tucson, Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives, suffered these injuries at a public event held in Tucson last year. During the event, a lone gunman attacked her and the crowd, killing six people, including a federal judge. Fourteen others were wounded in the attack, including Rep. Giffords.
Prior to the shooting, Rep. Giffords served several terms in Congress, after first taking office in 2006.
In announcing her resignation, Rep. Giffords – who has been very public with her recovery efforts thus far – allowed even more of a glimpse into her ongoing struggles to overcome her brain injuries. She noted that she still has not regained her memories of the day the shooting occurred. Memory loss is a common symptom of traumatic brain injury.
Rep. Giffords stated that she’s getting better all the time, and that she hopes to someday return to public service. But she also noted that she has more “work to do” on her recovery, and that she believes that, based upon her current condition, it would be best for her state for her to step down.
Rep. Giffords’ decision reflects the situation faced by the victims of traumatic brain injury each and every day. While other injuries frequently have discrete, predictable recovery times, traumatic brain injuries are more unpredictable, taking from weeks to years to heal (when they do heal), and with no way to predict how long recovery will take.
Moreover, during the recovery period from other types of injuries, often accommodations can be made to allow the victim to continue to work. With traumatic brain injuries, however, victims can suffer not only from short and long-term memory problems, but also from the inability to perform other basic life functions necessary to their employment, such as speaking, reading, or writing. These difficulties can last indefinitely, or can be permanent.
Through her own example and her nationwide platform, Rep. Giffords has been working tirelessly to bring attention to the problems faced by the victims of traumatic brain injury. She has been very public with her own struggles and, in December, hosted a town hall discussion of traumatic brain injury led by experts in the field. Our brain injury attorneys applaud her efforts, and wish her the best of luck as she continues to work towards a complete recovery.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago brain injury lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.