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Updated 02/06/12 – 3:20 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – More than two weeks after suffering a stroke and undergoing brain surgery, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has been upgraded to good condition and doctors said he will soon begin rehabilitation.
Monday afternoon, Northwestern Memorial Hospital neurosurgeon Dr. Richard Fessler issued a statement that Kirk was “making good progress.”
Fessler said Kirk has been visiting with his family and watched the Super Bowl on Sunday.
“We are very pleased with his continued improvement,” Fessler said.
Kirk has been upgraded to good condition and Fessler said doctors expect he will be able to start rehabilitation soon.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin welcomed the good news about his colleague and said he and his staff are there for Kirk during his recovery.
Durbin said his office is reaching out to Kirk’s staff and working with them to continue Kirk’s work on Capitol Hill while he recovers from his stroke.
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And, no, Durbin said, he has not been to visit Kirk.
“He is in intensive care and improving. All the reports are positive. I’ve been through this in my own family. You’re not entertaining visitors after brain surgery. You’ve got some things to do: meet with your family, meet with your physician, get well,” Durbin said.
Durbin said he has sent Kirk a note, reassuring him that he can call Durbin for anything he needs.
“I’ll be there for him. I’ve sent a note to him several times, telling him ‘Call me when you need me’ and I’ve met with his staff. We’ve sat down and had a meeting with his entire Washington staff. I volunteered to do whatever I can do to meet his senatorial duties,” Durbin said.
He said Kirk is young and healthy and he expects the senator back on the Senate floor and fully productive.
The senator suffered an ischemic stroke the weekend of Jan. 21. He underwent surgery that weekend to remove a large section of his skull in order to reduce swelling on the right side of his brain.
A few days after the initial surgery, doctors performed another procedure to remove two small pieces of brain tissue that had been rendered non-functional by the stroke.
Fessler has said Kirk will have a long road to recovery and, although he is expected to make a full mental recovery, he’s likely to suffer long-term problems using his left arm and, possibly, his left leg. He might also suffer some partial facial paralysis.
Doctors said if the stroke had occurred on the left side of Kirk’s brain, the effects could have been more severe, because the left side of the brain controls most cognitive functions.
For Kirk, rehabilitation will mean restoring as much function as possible on the left side of his body and learning to live with whatever permanent limitations that might result from the stroke.