Colleague says Kirk mentally sharp after stroke

A fellow member of Illinois’ congressional delegation on Wednesday described Mark Kirk as mentally sharp after a weekend visit to the Chicago rehab center where the Republican senator is recovering from a stroke.

Congressman John Shimkus said in a blog post that he and the Republican senator talked about a broad range of key issues and that he believes Kirk would even be capable of casting votes again, though Senate rules require those voting to be present in Washington.

“Mentally he is sharp,” Shimkus wrote. “I believe he could cast knowledgeable votes today. But he is in a critical time to continue to focus on improvement and strengthening his body and soul for the important work he looks forward to resuming.”

Shimkus described Kirk as sitting up with a smile on his face during the visit to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago on Sunday. As he left, he said, Kirk gave him a strong handshake. Their conversation included talk of primary season in Illinois as well as the tornado damage in the southern part of the state from a storm two weeks ago, Shimkus wrote.

Doctors have said Kirk, 52, should make a full mental recovery, although they expect the stroke will limit movement on his left side.

Immediately after the January stroke, Kirk had emergency surgery that included the temporary removal of part of his skull to allow for swelling.

The senator began his rehabilitation in mid-February and has been meeting regularly with his staff. His doctors have said they are pleased with his progress.

“Nothing he has done has been as difficult as this road to recovery,” Shimkus wrote. “Every day, Mark pushes himself through though physical therapy sessions, on a treadmill and walking the hallways. Some days are better than others but his progress is consistent.”

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