US Sen. Kirk released from rehabilitation center

May 3, 2012 - 3:25 PM
Kirk Stroke

FILE - In this April 19, 2012 file photo provided by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., talks with staff members at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, in the first public image of Kirk since he suffered a stroke in January 2012. On Thursday, May 3, 2012, Kirk's office released a statement saying the 52-year-old senator has been released from the rehabilitation center and recovered to the point where he can move home with his family. (AP Photo/Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — Nearly four months after suffering a major stroke, Sen. Mark Kirk has been released from a Chicago rehabilitation center and returned home, his family said Thursday.

The 52-year-old Illinois Republican will continue to work on his recovery as an out-patient at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and is also participating in a research trial at the center that involves an intensive daily walking program.

"We are happy to say that after suffering a stroke in January, Mark has progressed to the point where he can move home with his family," said a family statement released by Kirk's office.

Throughout his time at the rehabilitation center, Kirk regularly met with visiting staff members and congressional colleagues to keep up to speed on political developments. His well-wishers have included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who telephoned Kirk in March to wish him a speedy recovery and discuss the threat from Iran — an issue Kirk has been interested in as a senator.

His doctors have released regular updates saying they are pleased with Kirk's progress. In the most recent one April 24, the director of the institute's Center for Stroke Rehabilitation, Dr. Richard Harvey, said Kirk had walked more than 10 miles altogether since he arrived at the center in early February. He added that Kirk was able to climb stairs and get in and out of vehicles as part of his exercises.

In the same release, doctors included the first public photo of Kirk since the stroke, showing him talking with visiting staff members in his room at the center. In the image, Kirk has closely trimmed hair and rests his right arm on a table as he sits in a chair.

Doctors have said the stroke was expected to limit movement on his left side, though they expected him to make a full mental recovery.

In the days following his stroke, Kirk underwent emergency surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital that included the temporary removal of a 4-by-8-inch piece of his skull to allow for swelling. Doctors also removed two small pieces of brain tissue destroyed by the stroke.

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago had no comment on Kirk's release, spokeswoman Katie Lorenz said.

"We are grateful for the wonderful doctors and personnel at the RIC for their care of Mark, and to the residents of Illinois who have given him privacy and time to heal," the family's statement said. "We also thank everyone who has shared their prayers and wishes for his return to the U.S. Senate as soon as possible."