Giffords awake, communicates after skull surgery

By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI | May 19, 2011 | 12:13 PM EDT

FILE - In this March, 2010 file photo provided by the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., Giffords poses for a photo. Giffords is recuperating from implant surgery on her skull following a milestone in her recovery from an assassination attempt, as doctors focus on the upcoming stages of her rehabilitation. (AP Photo/Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, File)

HOUSTON (AP) — Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has woken up and is communicating after doctors placed an implant in her head to repair her skull.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Dong Kim says Giffords is doing well after Wednesday's surgery. They held a news conference Thursday to give an update on her condition.

The operation is another milestone in Giffords' recovery and will allow her to move around without the helmet she has worn since January when she began intensive rehabilitation at Houston's TIRR Memorial Hermann.

Giffords was shot in the head Jan. 8. Six people were killed and 12 others wounded in the assassination attempt in Tucson, Ariz.