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Article updated: 7/27/2012 6:44 PM

Kirk health update: Senator has walked 15 miles, calls every day a "challenge"

By Kerry Lester

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk has walked 15 miles during rehabilitation from a stroke but considers every day "a challenge."

The Highland Park Republican, in a highly anticipated update from his office, is shown in online photos meeting with U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert, a Hinsdale Republican, and thanks the doctors and physical therapists working with him in a Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago research trial.

Since beginning the trial nine weeks ago to improve his mobility, Kirk says he has walked an average of 3,677 steps per day, a total of 14.79 miles over ground and on the treadmill, and up 145 flights of stairs.

Kirk, 52, describes every day as a "challenge" but notes he is "committed to providing you with updates on my rehabilitation and my work on behalf of Illinois in the United States Senate. Thank you to all who continue to send their prayers and messages of support. I am honored to serve and look forward to returning as soon as possible."

This is the first update on Kirk in more than a month. In early May, the senator's office released a video showing for the first time Kirk talking and walking since the stroke in January.

Also in May, Kirk wrote a letter posted on his Senate website, describing the stroke as "something profound happening inside my skull." Kirk was reportedly thrilled to see the video had more than 38,000 web hits.

Kirk had several surgeries and was hospitalized for weeks following a carotid artery dissection in the right side of his neck, in which a flap of tissue blocked the flow of blood in the carotid artery to the brain.

After a period at the Rehabilitation Institute, he returned home to continue his recovery with outpatient therapy.

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