Still, Kirk’s condition Monday appeared serious. Dr. Richard Fessler, Kirk’s neurosurgeon at Northwestern Memorial, said doctors removed a 4-by-8-inch piece of the Senator’s skull to relieve the swelling caused by the damaged tissue, a maneuver common in brain trauma cases.
The stroke did not affect the Senator’s left brain, meaning his cognitive and language skills likely will be intact as he recovers, Fessler said during a press conference at the Chicago-based hospital. Fessler indicated Kirk’s prospects for “a full mental recovery are good,” but that the Senator’s “prospects for a full physical recovery, particularly on his left side, are not great.”
The doctor also noted it was “way too soon to try and predict” how long Kirk will need to recuperate, but that his convalescence could take weeks or months.
Kirk’s doctor said that when taken off sedation, Kirk has been responsive to commands and aware of those around him — both good indicators of potential and complete cognitive recovery.
In the meantime, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has offered to assist the junior Senator’s office in any way necessary.
“I was stunned to learn that Mark suffered a stroke. He is young and in good physical condition and I have no doubt he will make a speedy recovery,” Durbin said in a statement. “I have reached out to his staff and offered to do anything I can to help with his Senate duties.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.