Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Brain & Nervous System Health Center

Font Size

Gabrielle Giffords' Brain Injury: FAQ

Giffords Recovering from Point-Blank Gunshot to Head

Will Giffords survive? continued...

Black says he's seen patients who have been shot in the head make amazing recoveries.

"We have had patients who have been shot in the head and were able to return to their previous occupations and are functioning near normal," he says. "This may have to occur on a gradual basis. ... The brain will continue to recover for six to 18 months."

The parts of the brain destroyed by the bullet are gone forever. But other injured areas may recover.

"Some brain cells now in shock are still alive and those cells will go ahead and recover once the initial trauma is resolved," Black says. "The cells that were destroyed and died, the surrounding areas will try to take over those functions by making new connections. And there are stem cells in the brain that can come out and regenerate some of the tissue."

Brooks notes that while the brain cells destroyed during Giffords' injury are gone, the damage may be limited.

"A bullet wound is more like a stroke than a blow to the head from a car wreck, because the tissue damage is so circumscribed," he says. "The potential for recovery is greater for the tissue that didn't get taken out."

Will Giffords recover?

As Flamm notes, survival is one thing and recovery is another. It's very rare for a person with extensive brain damage -- such as that caused by a bullet -- to regain all of the abilities and functions he or she had before the injury.

So far, the news from Giffords' bedside is good. But until she is formally evaluated by a team of rehabilitation specialists, the extent of her disabilities remains unclear.

Nina Zeldis, PhD, taught rehabilitation medicine at Israel's Tel Aviv University for more than 20 years. She notes that people who, like Giffords, have suffered damage to the left side of the brain tend to have:

  • difficulty speaking and understanding speech
  • difficulty reading
  • increased impulsivity
  • lack of emotional control
  • decreased problem-solving ability
  • diminished long-term planning
  • problems with hand/eye coordination

"The things we do every day and don't think about, all these things we think of as little become enormous and difficult to do," Zeldis says.

Today on WebMD

nerve damage
Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
senior woman with lost expression
Know the early warning signs.
woman in art gallery
Tips to stay smart, sharp, and focused.
medical marijuana plant
What is it used for?
senior man
boy hits soccer ball with head
red and white swirl
marijuana plant
brain illustration stroke
nerve damage
Alzheimers Overview
Graphic of number filled head and dna double helix