Thousands of people lined the streets of Tucson in the US state of Arizona last night to wish the Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords well as she was moved to a rehabilitation centre in Texas.

Ms Giffords was discharged from hospital less than two weeks after being shot in the head.

Doctors said her transfer had gone ‘flawlessly’ and that she had smiled and shed tears on hearing applause from well-wishers.

Her husband Mark Kelly and doctors from Tucson's University Medical Center accompanied the 40-year-old on the three-hour trip to Houston, to be closer to his work as a NASA astronaut and their two daughters.

Briefing reporters shortly after her arrival in Houston, neurosurgeon Dong Kim reported that the lawmaker's recovery prospects were ‘excellent’.

'Over the next few months, she's going to do remarkably well,' Dr Kim said, adding that Ms Giffords - who this week stood up with help for the first time, and browsed photos on an iPad - appeared to be trying to form words.

‘We're all very happy with our assessment of Gabby right now... her rehab potential is outstanding,’ said John Holcomb, who will be leading her treatment in Houston.

The Tucson shooting, at a public meeting being held by Ms Giffords, triggered much soul-searching about whether the fiercely divided political culture in the US had played any role in the attack.

A local man, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, was arrested at the scene, and was this week indicted by a grand jury for the attempted murder of Ms Giffords and two of her aides.

More charges are expected to be brought against him. A federal judge and a nine-year-old girl were among those killed in the shooting.