A reminder of stroke symptoms as Senator Kirk returns to Capitol Hill

By Audrey Williams

A reminder of stroke symptoms as Senator Kirk returns to Capitol Hill

January 3, 2013 Updated Jan 4, 2013 at 12:15 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Among the most remarkable moments in Washington Thursday, Republican Mark Kirk made his way up the steps to the Capitol nearly a year after suffering a massive stroke.

Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, using a cane, was met with applause as he slowly made his way up the steps to the Capitol Thursday afternoon. The Senator's left leg was visibly stiff as he took each step.

In an interview Wednesday, Senator Kirk said nearly one year ago he was very close to dying.

"He said you're highly likely to have a stroke right now, and so he obviously had my full attention and luckily, I was still in the hospital when it all hit," said Senator Kirk of his experience nearly one year ago.

Dr. Deepak Nair at the Illinois Neurological Institute in Peoria said Senator Kirk is making a fantastic recovery. He said research regarding the prevention of strokes is still pretty extensive. Some risk factors that cannot be controlled are age, genetics, and family history.

However, Dr. Nair said staying healthy and knowing your controllable risk factors can help.

"High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, irregular heart rhythms that can be controlled," he said.

Knowing the symptoms and acting quickly are vital to saving lives.

Nair said, "A sudden loss in vision is one eye or one half of your vision, a sudden loss of ability to speak or understand speech, a sudden loss in your ability to move or feel one half of you body, or a sudden loss of balance of a sudden onset of vertigo or dizziness, those are all fairly common stroke symptoms."

Each stroke and recovery time is different from patient to patient.

Such is the example of 78-year-old Bobbie Marshall.

"I sit down in the chair and all of the sudden my arm just gave a loose and I fell out of the chair down on the floor," said Marshall, sitting up in his hospital chair two days after his stroke.

He came into the hospital New Years Day and doctors expect to send him home Friday with no plans for therapy.

"Real lucky," said Marshall of his prognosis.

From Senator Kirk to Bobbie Marshall, every stroke survivor has a different story. What is key is that they have a story. Staying healthy and knowing the symptoms will hopefully lead to more stories of stroke survival in the future.

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