January 24, 2012 in Nation/World

Senator suffers ‘significant’ stroke

Sophia Tareen Associated Press

(Full-size photo)

CHICAGO – Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois could lose full use of his left arm and experience facial paralysis after a weekend stroke that required emergency surgery, but his physician said Monday the prospects for a complete mental recovery are strong.

Dr. Richard Fessler said it likely would be “very difficult” for the first-term Republican senator to regain movement in his left arm, and that his left leg and face also may be affected. Kirk was in intensive care at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he appeared to recognize those around him and was responding to verbal commands, Fessler said.

Though Fessler could not say when Kirk would be able to return to work, he described the senator as “young, very healthy and in good shape.”

“Sen. Kirk’s job is cerebral, and I believe the functions required to do his job are going to be fine,” said Fessler, a neurosurgeon who removed a 4-by-8-inch piece of Kirk’s skull Sunday night to relieve swelling on his brain.

Kirk, 52, had reported feeling dizzy and checked himself into Lake Forest Hospital over the weekend before being transferred to Northwestern. Tests showed he had a tear in the carotid artery on the right side of his neck.

Fessler said Kirk would undergo rehabilitation, but added that the “the prospects for his full physical recovery, particularly on the left side of his body, are not great.”

Dr. Joseph Broderick, a University of Cincinnati stroke expert, said that when removing part of the skull is required, “that is a pretty significant stroke.”

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