“She will have permanent deficits”

People who suffer penetrating traumatic brain injuries, such as the reported temple shot that Giffords sustained, often develop paralysis and severe problems thinking and interacting with the world. In such a scenario, the bullet typically disconnects the frontal lobe, the seat of conscious thought and action in the brain.

“Your frontal lobe is where you as a person reside,” O’Shanick said.

Still, O’Shanick said it was good news that Gifford’s surgeon expressed optimism about her recovery. With skilled surgery and access to early and comprehensive cognitive rehabilitation, some patients are able to make remarkable recoveries, O’Shanick said.