Sen. Kirk releases new video about his recovery from stroke
WASHINGTON – Thanking the people of Illinois for “their patience with this patient,” U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk released a new video Sunday with vivid scenes of his rehabilitation from the severe stroke that he suffered in January.
His voice sounding closer to normal in his videotaped message, Kirk, R-Ill., reported “very encouraging” progress in his recovery and said he is talking often with staffers, congressional colleagues and others about issues faced by the Senate.
Kirk narrates the video as he sits at a desk in the library at home in the Chicago suburb of Fort Sheridan, Ill. It begins with scenes of the senator – his left side nearly paralyzed – taking early steps on a treadmill this spring at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
Since then, Kirk said, he has worked tirelessly to improve his walking, speech, and general mobility. During a nine-week research study at the Institute, Kirk walked nearly 15 miles and climbed 145 flights of stairs. The senator said he wanted to be a good example and show other stroke victims that at least partial recovery is possible.
“The progress that I have made has been very encouraging – learning to walk again and improving my speaking skills, all due to the experts,” at the Chicago institute, he said. “I released this video to make sure that people know what my condition is, to be an example to other Illinois families.”
Strokes are the fourth-leading cause of death in this country, with about 700,000 Americans suffering from a stroke every year. While doctors have said they are encouraged by Kirk’s mental recovery, he is not expected to regain full use of his left arm and leg as a result of the ischemic stroke he suffered Jan. 21.
While Kirk did say when it was likely that he would return to the Senate, members of Congress and staffers familiar with his rehabilitation speculate that the earliest he might return would be in the lame-duck session in November and December. It is not possible for senators to vote unless they are physically present in the Senate chamber.
“Almost every day I’ve been briefed as events unfolded to keep track of what could be important for the state of Illinois,” Kirk said in the taped video. The senator said he talked to his staff “several times a day” and keeps up with Senate business via regular emails from the office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Kirk said he also has been working with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to find the best possible replacement for northern Illinois’ U.S. attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, who is stepping down. The two senators have named a “bipartisan panel of distinguished jurists” to review the application for the important post.
Kirk promised regular updates on his progress and he said recent visits from fellow senators and U.S. House members had been touching “morale boosters” as he recovers. Above all, he said, “I want to thank the people of Illinois for their patience with this patient to recover from a big stroke.”
The full text of Kirk’s message is at: www.kirk.senate.gov/pdfs/recoveryvideotext.pdf