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Medical question: why would keeping Giffords upright have saved her?

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"The intern who helped treat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot told Fox News on Sunday that the tragic shooting in Tucson shouldn't deter elected officials from serving the public. Hernandez, who had been helping with Giffords' public event on Saturday, helped treat Giffords by applying cloths to her wounds and keeping her upright until paramedics arrived"



Why would it have been important to keep her upright? I read that the bullet entered a temple and exited through her forehead. I'm interested from a first aid standpoint.

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I'll have to ask dd, the paramedic, when she gets here but I suspect that it has to do with diverting blood to help prevent blood loss and brain swelling. But, I am absolutely not the medical person. She's been through her neurology/trauma course already and has dealt with a head wound during one of her ambulance runs, so I will definitely ask her when she gets off shift.



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She's alive.


The question assumes that she might have died if she hadn't been kept upright.


I think it is more likely she is alive since the bullet damaged 1 hemisphere of the brain, not 2.



The whole incident is quite unbelievable, but the fact that she's survived this long is amazing. I will admit -- and I don't mean to be cruel here -- when I first heard "shot in the head," I thought that was it, that she was dead or would be quickly. So very few people ever survive a head shot (when it actually penetrates the skull). I will keep hope that she has good prospects for a recovery that includes as much functionality as possible.

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