Gabrielle Giffords Isn't Close to Returning to Work She struggles to speak in full sentences, though hope remains By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Jun 9, 2011 5:43 PM CDT 30 comments Comments A file photo of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords before the shooting. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) (Newser) – Gabby Giffords still struggles to speak in complete sentences, and she's not close to returning to Congress, writes EJ Montini in the Arizona Republic. He interviews Giffords' chief of staff for the most realistic assessment to date of her recovery. Hope remains: Giffords' comprehension seems about normal and she is only about halfway through the critical 12-month period after the injury in which she would make her biggest gains. But if she has already peaked, it seems unlikely Giffords would file papers for re-election by the May 2012 deadline. Some highlights from the interview with Pia Carusone: Communication: "Her words are back more and more now, but she's still using facial expressions as a way to express. Pointing. Gesturing. Add it all together, and she's able to express the basics of what she wants or needs. But, when it comes to a bigger and more complex thought that requires words, that's where she's had the trouble." Big picture: "She's alive. But if she were to plateau today, and this was as far as she gets, it would not be nearly the quality of life she had before. There's no comparison. All that we can hope for is that she won't plateau today and that she'll keep going ... " Click to read the full interview or to read how Jared Loughner has been deemed incompetent to stand trial.