CHICAGO Surgeons reattached a portion of Senator Mark Kirk's skull that had been removed to avert further brain damage from a stroke the 52-year-old Illinois Republican suffered more than two weeks ago, his doctor said on Tuesday.
"This is an important milestone in his recovery and a step toward the next phase, rehabilitation," Dr. Richard Fessler of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago said in a statement.
"He remains in good condition," said Fessler, a neurosurgeon who has provided regular updates on Kirk's condition.
Kirk watched the Super Bowl on Sunday from his hospital bed.
He faces a long recovery of several weeks or months from what is expected to be a degree of paralysis on the left side of his body, Fessler has said.
Kirk's stroke, caused by damage to one of the carotid arteries in his neck, affected the right side of his brain, which controls the left side of his body. Brain swelling following the stroke led surgeons to relieve pressure by removing a portion of his skull, which was preserved for reattachment.
Because the stroke affected the right side of Kirk's brain, Fessler has said the senator's abilities to think and speak should be intact.
Kirk, a U.S. Naval Reserve intelligence officer and a pilot, was elected in 2010 to fill President Barack Obama's former Senate seat vacated when elected president. Previously, Kirk served five terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
(Reporting By Andrew Stern; Editing by Philip Barbara)