The first photo of Sen. Mark Kirk was released Tuesday, three months after the Illinois Republican suffered a stroke. Kirk's staff also offered a more comprehensive update on his progress.
“Senator Kirk remains fully engaged in all aspects of his rehabilitation program," said Dr. Richard L. Harvey, Medical Director of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. "He is mentally sharp, and meets with his staff nearly every day to discuss policy issues and global current events. Senator Kirk is working very hard in daily therapy sessions to increase his strength and mobility, and has walked more than 10 miles in total since his arrival at RIC. In addition he is climbing stairs and getting in and out of vehicles. We are quite pleased with his ongoing recovery."
Harvey said Kirk will soon participate in a research trial focused on improving gait pattern through "an intense regimen of continuous walking over flat surfaces, on stairs and on a treadmill every day."
The trial will last several weeks.
Before the update, information on Kirk's recovery has been very closely guarded.
Kirk, 52, checked himself into Lake Forest Hospital on Jan. 21. Doctors discovered a carotid artery dissection in the right side of his neck, and he was transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Further tests showed Kirk had suffered an ischemic stroke and he underwent surgery to relieve swelling around his brain.
Follow-up surgeries included reattaching a four-inch-by-eight-inch part of his skull that had been removed to ease the brain swelling.
By mid-February Kirk began his rehab at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. All along doctors have noted Kirk has had several pre-stroke factors that were considered favorable for his recovery.
It’s believed Kirk has had very few visitors other than close friends and family. However, last week Chicago attorney Joe Morris told Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed that he received a phone call from Kirk.
“The Senator’s speech was clear and unslurred,” Morris noted. Also, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered well wishes at a recent speech in Washington and telephoned Senator Kirk.
This month Rep. Randy Hultgren told reporters he's heard positive things about Kirk's progress.
"Everything I hear is very good, it's going to be a long process, but I know he's a fighter," Hultgren said. "We need him back as quickly as possible but we also need him to do everything he needs to do to be back to full health.
He did not have any information, though, as to when Kirk would be back to work.