Gabrielle Giffords's Husband: She's Smiling, Rubbing My Neck

Gabrielle Giffords's Husband: She's Smiling, Rubbing My Neck
Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, in an undated photo

01/17/2011 AT 06:15 PM EST

As her condition continues to improve, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's personality is starting to shine through.

"So typical of her," her husband Mark Kelly tells ABC News. "She's in the ICU. You know, gone through this traumatic injury. And she spent 10 minutes giving me a neck massage."

"I keep telling her," Kelly adds, "I'm like, 'Gabby, you're in the ICU. You know, you don't need … to be doing this.' But it's so typical of her that no matter how bad the situation might be for her, you know, she's looking out for other people."

After the Jan. 8 shooting spree, Kelly raced to Tucson from his home in Houston, where he was training for his role as NASA astronaut commander of Space Shuttle Endeavour's final mission in April.

With Giffords's tracheotomy tube still in place, the congresswoman can't speak to her husband – but she's started to smile at him, which doctors say is a promising sign.

"It implies she is recognizing him, and that she's interacting perhaps with a more familiar way with him," says Dr. Michael Lemole at University Medical Center.

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