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Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 04/24/2012

Sen. Mark Kirk’s first photo released since his stroke


Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is pictured on April 19 at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago/Office of Sen. Mark Kirk)

The office of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) released the first photo of the senator since he suffered a stroke in January, as his doctors say he continues to make a strong recovery.

The photo shows Kirk, dressed in a polo shirt, seated at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Center for Stroke Rehabilitation. Kirk’s office released the photo Tuesday.

Dr. Richard L. Harvey, medical director of the Chicago stroke rehab center told the Chicago Sun-Times Tuesday that Kirk remains “fully engaged” with his intense rehabilitation program and is getting back into a normal routine.

“He is mentally sharp, and meets with his staff nearly every day to discuss policy issues and global current events,” Harvey said in a written statement provided to the Sun-Times. “Senator Kirk is working very hard in daily therapy sessions to increase his strength and mobility, and has walked more than 10 miles in total since his arrival at RIC. In addition he is climbing stairs and getting in and out of vehicles. We are quite pleased with his ongoing recovery.”

Kirk, 52, is a former five-term House member who in November 2010 won election to the Senate seat formerly held by President Obama.

In January Kirk checked himself into a hospital, and doctors later discovered he had suffered an ischemic stroke, which occurs when an obstruction in an artery prevents blood flow to the brain.

As part of his recovery, the Sun-Times reports, Kirk will participate in a research trial at the RIC that the hospital expects to last several weeks.

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