U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (second from right) climbs the Capitol stairs with Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin assisting. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger)
By WJBC Staff
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill) is back at the Capitol almost a year after suffering a stroke.
He climbed the 45 stairs to the U.S. Capitol this morning, with members of his staff at his side, along with Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill). Several members of Congress greeted Kirk before and after the ten minute climb, including U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill), U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) and U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC).
“It’s miraculous," Vice President Joe Biden said. "I made this same walk in 1989 after being out seven months (with a brain aneurysm), and the courage he showed is incredible."
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says he expects his colleague will be able to do his job.
“You bet he will. You be it. We’ll be working together as we always have,” Durbin said. "Literally, it's a miracle he survived and here he is, a year later, back at the Senate. I think he's going to draw strength from being back home at his job."
Kirk received applause from fellow members of Congress as he was escorted into the Senate chamber. He paused to greet well-wishers and he waved and smiled. He hasn’t yet done any public speaking.
Dr. Elliot Roth, Kirk's doctor, expects the senator's recovery to continue.
"Every one of us who works at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago has patients that we see improve much beyond one year," Roth said. "We don't take the one year mark seriously at all. We have every expection that he will continue to improve."
Kirk had to have three brain surgeries after having the major stroke in January of 2012. Last November he walked up almost 40 flights of stairs at Chicago's Willis Tower to raise money for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
The stroke limited movement on the left side of Kirk's body and affected his speech. He now speaks more slowly and deliberately and is expected to have a scaled-back schedule. He won't keep a packed travel schedule. Kirk uses a four-pronged cane and may also use wheelchair as he resumes work in Washington.
It isn't fully known yet what his speaking ability will be.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk pauses to wave to supporters during his climb up the U.S. Capitol steps. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Sen. Kirk)