Photo, update on Senator Mark Kirk recovery

April 24, 2012 2:14:23 PM PDT
Senator Mark Kirk ''is mentally sharp,'' and meets with his staff almost daily, according to his doctor at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Center.

Senator Kirk had a stroke in January and has been out of the public eye since. A photo of the recovering Kirk was released on Tuesday with the update on his condition.

"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," Dr. Richard L. Harvey, RIC, said. "We are quite pleased with his ongoing recovery."

Kirk will participate in a several week research trial at RIC that involves intense exercises such as walking over flat surfaces, on stairs and on a treadmill every day. The trial is for participants who are one to six months post-stroke and not yet at their pre-stroke walking pace.

Shortly after his stroke, doctors made it clear that Kirk might not regain full use of his left arm and leg.

The senator's staff has not commented on his condition, deferring all questions to Kirk's doctors, but they are clearly trying to portray him as still involved in carrying out his senatorial duties. Earlier this month his office released a report which lists the senator as one of the authors.

But while Kirk may be mentally healthy, his physical rehabilitation seems to be taking longer.

"Probably three months out if he's getting in-patient rehab, he probably has a lot of challenges just in terms of mobility and activities of daily living," said Dr. Gioia Herring Williams, Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital. "With a stroke, your weaknesses on one side prevents you from walking in a way where you're able to compensate for any problems that might happen with uneven surfaces."

ABC7 got a look at some of the exercises that Kirk's therapy might include at the Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital Tuesday.

"It runs the gamut - from can you lift up your foot and take a step to can you walk well doing cognitive dual tasks, asking questions, throwing a ball up in the air, doing target practice walking sideways," said Andrea Remick, physical therapist, Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital.