"I want to thank the people of Illinois for granting me the honor to represent them in the United States Senate. I can't wait to go back to work," Sen. Kirk said.
The video shows the progress Kirk has made following a stroke in January. He thanked his doctors and Illinois residents for giving him time to recover.
"I suffered a stroke on the 21st of January, and thanks to the doctors, nurses and professionals at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the RIC, I am walking again, leading to my hope to climb the 45 steps that my staff counted from the parking lot to the Senate door to fight for the people of Illinois."
Kirk's recovery has been a closely guarded secret. By releasing the video on Tuesday, the veil is lifting a bit to show his progress. The video, put together through his staff and posted to youtube, shows Kirk undergoing rehab at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) and talking about his participation in a walking study for stroke patients. In the video, Senator Kirk thanks his doctors and staff. The senator's office said Kirk has walked 10 miles altogether since arriving at RIC in February.
Kirk's speech is slow and halting at times. The two and half-minute video is heavily edited, but shows he is recovering.
The 52-year old has remained out of the public eye since his stroke on January 21, which left him unable to move his left arm and left leg and affected his speech. In the 15 weeks since then, Kirk has been trying to regain movement on the left side of his body. Early on, he used devices at RIC to walk. Now, the video appears to show Kirk walking on his own with a cane.
"They have some devious ways of making things more difficult for you. Yesterday I was wearing a ten-pound weight; they described it as a weight of a baby anchor, which really does slow you down," Kirk said.
Kirk underwent three surgeries at Northwestern Memorial Hospital right after his January 21 stroke, and was then transferred to RIC, where he had inpatient treatment. On May 3, he was released from RIC, but he remains in a rigorous outpatient walking program and has logged more than 10 miles since his stroke there, according to the statement.
"I want to thank everyone especially for the patience they have given me to recover from a big stroke. I want to thank the people of Illinois for granting me the honor to represent them in the United States Senate. I cannot wait to go back to work to vote to spend less, borrow less and tax less to help fix our economy."
Kirk's staff put together the video and posted it on YouTube. The senator is focused on his recovery and has yet to make any public appearances or grant any interviews.
Rush University's Dr. James Young watched Kirk's video with ABC7. He said it shows a man motivated to work hard to recover. What the video does not show, Dr. Young says, are the Senator's mental abilities.
"I think the neuropsychological testing in the next three to six months will strongly determine his cognitive abilities," said Dr. Young, "meaning his attention, concentration and memory. His ability to understand abstract concepts at the speed the Senate operates and his ability to make decisions."
Doctors say the next few months will be just as critical as the first four in gauging Kirk's physical and mental recovery.