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posted: 10/19/2012 10:55 AM

Doctors say wounded Pakistani girl improving

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  • This undated image shows 15-year old Pakistani shooting victim Malala Yousufzai, who is recovering in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, after being attacked and shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan for advocating education for girls. Malala is reported to be improving.

      This undated image shows 15-year old Pakistani shooting victim Malala Yousufzai, who is recovering in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, after being attacked and shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan for advocating education for girls. Malala is reported to be improving.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

LONDON -- Doctors treating 15-year-old Pakistani shooting victim Malala Yousufzai said Friday that she is able to stand with help and to write, though she still shows signs of infection.

Malala is "well enough that she's agreed that she's happy, in fact keen, for us to share more clinical detail," said Dr. Dave Rosser, medical director at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham,

"She is also keen that I thank people for their support and their interest because she is obviously aware of the amount of interest and support this has generated around the world."

The infection is probably related to the track of a bullet that grazed her head when she was attacked by Taliban gunmen, he said.

"She is not out of the woods yet," Rosser said.

"Having said that, she's doing very well. In fact, she was standing with some help for the first time this morning when I went in to see her."

Malala was shot and critically wounded on Oct. 9 as she headed home from school in the northwest Swat Valley. The Taliban said they targeted Malala, a fierce advocate for girls' education, because she promoted "Western thinking" and was critical of the militant group.

Malala was flown from Pakistan to Birmingham on Monday for advanced medical treatment and for security protection. The medical briefing Friday offered the first real indication of her progress. Earlier briefings were quite limited out of respect for the girl's privacy.

She is in Britain alone. Hospital officials have been in touch with her family in Pakistan.

Rosser said the girl "is communicating very freely, she is writing" but not speaking because she has a tracheotomy tube in her throat.

"We have no reason to believe that she would not be able to talk once this tube is out, maybe in the next few days," Rosser said.

Scans have revealed some physical damage to her brain, but "at this stage we're not seeing any deficit in terms of function," Rosser said.

"She seems able to understand. She's got motor control, she's able to write.

"Whether there's any subtle intellectual or memory deficits down the line is too early to say," he added.

"It is possible she will make a smooth recovery, but it is impossible to tell I'm afraid."

Officials in the Swat Valley originally said Malala was 14 years old but officials at her school confirmed that her birthday was July 12, 1997, making her 15.

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