The Illinois Republican, 52, announced he was returning home from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago last week after suffering an ischemic stroke on Jan. 21 to the right side of his brain. The video is the first time Kirk has been on camera since the incident 15 weeks ago.
I'm walking again, leading to my hope to climb the 45 steps my staff counted from the parking lot to the Senate front door to fight for the people of Illinois, Kirk said from his home, his speech slightly labored but otherwise looking healthy.
The video also shows Kirk in the institute being assisted by nurses as he practices walking, sometimes with a white bandage across his head. The senator said he's currently enrolled in an intensive walking study for stroke patients as he continues outpatient recovery; in one clip, he describes how metal balls around his legs track his movements, and other types of therapy.
They have some devious ways of making things more difficult, Kirk said 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, then a suburban Chicago congressman, won Barack Obama's former Senate seat in 2010 in a bitter, close election against Democrat Alexi Giannoulias. His term, however, was interrupted when he checked himself into a hospital for dizziness about a year after taking the seat. Doctors at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital saw that his brain was swelling dangerously and removed a piece of his skull and two pieces of brain tissue.
The senator goes into more detail about his symptoms and recovery in an article published in the Chicago Tribune Wednesday morning, in which he described the stroke as four waves pass[ing] through my brain, each lasting approximately 15 minutes.
I cannot describe the feeling except to say that something profound was happening inside my skull, Kirk wrote.
Due to his age -- 52 is relatively young for stroke patients -- and overall good health, doctors said they expect him to make a full mental recovery but warned of limited movement on his left side.
Kirk said he plans to go back to work. Even at the rehabilitation center, Kirk regularly met with his staff to keep up to date on current events and even received a call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the Associated Press.
I can't wait to go back to work to spend less, borrow less and tax less to fix our economy, Kirk said in the video.