CHICAGO (AP) — Sen. Mark Kirk’s doctors on Tuesday released the first public photo of the Illinois Republican since his January stroke, showing him looking alert as he talks with members of his staff.

Kirk, 52, has been recovering at The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago since February after a stroke that required emergency surgery and the temporary removal of a part of his skull to allow for swelling.

The photo, taken April 19, shows Kirk talking with visiting staff members in his room at the center. The senator has closely trimmed hair and looks alert as his sits in a chair and rests his right arm on a table.

The director of the institute’s Center for Stroke Rehabilitation, Dr. Richard Harvey, also provided an update Tuesday on Kirk’s progress with recovery, saying Kirk has walked more than 10 miles altogether since he arrived at the center in early February. He is also able to climb stairs and get in and out of vehicles as part of his exercises.

“Senator Kirk remains fully engaged in all aspects of his rehabilitation program,” Harvey said in a written statement. “He is mentally sharp and meets with his staff nearly every day to discuss policy issues and global current events.”

Kirk spokesman Andrew Flach said he did not know why the senator and the RIC decided to release the photos and update now, or how much longer Kirk is expected to be in rehabilitation. He directed the questions back to the RIC.

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

He has daily therapy sessions to increase his strength and mobility, Harvey said.

“We are quite pleased with his ongoing recovery,” he said.

The senator soon will take part in a research trial at the center that is aimed at improving gait pattern through an intensive daily program of walking over flat surfaces, on stairs and on a treadmill.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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