U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk
is alert, answering questions and following commands days after a weekend stroke that led doctors to remove part of his skull to relieve pressure caused by brain swelling, his neurosurgeon Richard Fessler said Tuesday.
"He's doing better than I expected he would be doing at this point," Fessler said at a news conference at Northwestern Memorial Hospital
in Chicago. "He is completely oriented and he follows commands very briskly."
Doctors have removed Kirk's breathing tube, and he is lightly sedated. Although he remains in serious condition, Fessler said Kirk has been able to recognize others, acknowledge what is happening around him and speak in sentences.
"He asked for his BlackBerry yesterday," Fessler said.
Fessler stressed, however, that the senator still faces a long recovery.
He is moving his left side "very little" and has slight left-sided facial paralysis that has caused his speech to be slurred, Fessler said.
Kirk is expected to stay in intensive care for about a week so doctors can monitor his brain swelling. As that goes down, Fessler said, doctors expect to be able to reattach the section of his skull in about two weeks or possibly longer.
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