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S.D. senator starts working from hospital

February 11, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) is reading news clippings and starting to do some office work from the hospital, almost two months after suffering a life-threatening brain hemorrhage.

"He has requested more contact with office and is looking for updates from staff," his office said in a statement.

Spokeswoman Julianne Fisher said he was starting slowly. "We do not anticipate him back [in the Senate] for several weeks," Fisher said. "We are bringing work to him rather than him coming to us. His first priority still is rehabilitation."

Johnson has been undergoing physical, occupational and speech therapy since his transfer to rehabilitation from intensive care at George Washington University Hospital last month. He recently began to read and speak in full sentences, according to doctors' statements.

Part of Johnson's therapy has been to deal with weakness on his right side.

He was rushed to the hospital and had emergency surgery Dec. 13 after becoming disoriented during a phone call with reporters. He was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, which makes arteries and veins grow abnormally large, become tangled and sometimes burst.

Johnson was sedated and on a ventilator for several weeks because of fluid in his lungs. He was upgraded from critical to fair condition Jan. 9.

The senator is making decisions about his care and expressing opinions on his daily activities, the hospital's chief of rehabilitation, Dr. Philip Marion, said in a statement.

"He continues to initiate more conversations and questions," Marion said. "His therapy now includes computer exercises and problem-solving activities."

Johnson's wife, Barbara, said the family was impressed with his progress: "Even though there is a long road ahead to complete recovery, we feel that we have gotten 'our Tim' back."

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