In a powerful video showing footage of his post-stoke rehabilitation, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., says he "can't wait to go back to work," and is working on being able to walk the steps of the US Senate.
"I'm walking again," Kirk says in the video produced at the rehabilitation center in Chicago he's recovering at, "leading to my hope to climb the 45 steps that my staff counted from the parking lot to the Senate front door to fight for the people of Illinois."
The emotional video is the first time the senator has been seen on camera, outside of one photograph released by his Senate office, since his stroke 15 weeks ago.
In late January doctors discovered a carotid artery dissection in the right side of Kirk's neck, revealing he had suffered an ischemic stroke. The Senator eventually underwent surgery to relieve swelling around his brain stemming from the stroke but doctors cautioned it would be a long recovery and Kirk has not been back to Washington.
Last week Sen. Kirk's Senate office announced that the Senator had recovered enough to leave the rehabilitation center he's been living at for the last three months to continue his recovery while living at home.
The senator continues to do out-patient recovery at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago where he is currently enrolled in an intensive walking study for stroke patients.
The video, released today, shows the senator walking on treadmills with aid from some medical devices, and in another video his legs are wrapped with tiny silver balls which record his movements to regenerate them on a computer, to study his recovery.
"They have some devious ways of making things more difficult," Kirk jokes of his rehabilitation doctors. "Yesterday I was wearing a 10-pound weight. They described it as the weight of a baby on your ankle. Which really does slow you down."
Kirk is young by Senate standards - just 52 years old. Due to his "young age, good health, and the nature of the stroke," his doctors were initially very confident in the Senator's recovery over the months ahead.
Looking straight at the camera and speaking slow but clearly, the senator thanks his constituents in the video.
"I want to thank everyone especially for the patience they have given to allow 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 can't wait to go back to work."