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Sen. Mark Kirk discusses recovery from stroke in new video

May 08, 2012|By Katherine Skiba

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois has released a video showing him walking with the help of a cane and a harness as he talks about his rehabilitation since suffering a stroke in January.

"I'm walking again," the Republican says, seated before a camera as he narrates a three-minute video showing him walking with a cane and on a hospital treadmill while fitted in a harness. At times he speaks haltingly, and the video shows him struggling to move his left side.

Kirk was released last week from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and is continuing treatment there as an outpatient.

"I am currently enrolled in a walking study for stroke patients," Kirk says. "One of the more interesting setups that they had was a set of wraps around my legs with silver balls to be recorded so a stick figure could be generated on the computer.

"They have some devious ways of making things more difficult on you," he adds. "Yesterday I was wearing a 10-pound weight. They described it as a weight of a baby anchor, which really does slow you down."

Kirk said he hopes to walk the 45 steps, counted by his staff, from a parking lot up the steps of the U.S. Capitol and "fight for the people of Illinois."

"I can't wait to go back to work to vote to spend less and borrow less and tax less to help fix our country," added Kirk.

The video is the first released of the senator since he was stricken.

At one point, Kirk is shown walking on a treadmill with the help of a cane in his right hand. He wears braces on his lower left leg and his left arm, which both appear motionless, though he is able to walk by swinging the left side of his body with a movement of his hips.

In narrating the video, and in segments where he addresses the camera, Kirk speaks haltingly and at one point stumbles over his words, but his speech isĀ  understandable.

In a news release accompanying the video, Kirk's aides said he had begun a rigorous walking program to improve his gait. The program involves an "intense regimen" of walking on flat surfaces, stairs and a treadmill, they said. Altogether, Kirk has walked more than 10 miles since entering the institute in February, his aides said.

One official familiar with Kirk's recovery told the Chicago Tribune last week that the goal is for him to return to the Senate in the fall after the congressional recess in August. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the senator's recovery.

Kirk fell ill Jan. 21, had three brain surgeries at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and was transferred Feb. 10 to the institute for post-stroke therapy.

The Republican entered the Senate late in 2010 after nearly 10 years in the House.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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