Sen. Tim Johnson has returned to his residence outside Washington, more than four months after he suffered a brain hemorrhage, his office said Monday.
"It is wonderful to take this next step with family and friends," Johnson's office quoted the South Dakota Democrat as saying. "As I continue with my therapy, I also get more and more work from the office."
Johnson since February has been receiving treatment at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington. The attending physician at the hospital, Dr. Michael Yochelson, said Johnson continues to show significant progress, with gait training playing a more central role in his rehabilitation.
Rehabiliation and recovery
The statement described that as a form of robotic treadmill training where the weight is shared proportionately between the senator and the machine. It said the senator will bear a larger share of the weight as his therapy progresses. It is not uncommon for patients with his condition to see improvement for up to two years, the statement said.
Johnson was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, a condition that causes the arteries and veins to grow abnormally large, become tangled and sometimes burst.
The senator's spokeswoman, Julianne Fisher, said Johnson was still using a wheelchair but could walk with assistance. She said he might start using a motorized scooter soon. Use of his legs was limited both by the attack, which affected his right side, and the prolonged stay in bed.
She noted that Johnson was in a medically sedated condition for a month after the hemorrhage, and that his therapy did not begin until January. He is able to speak, she said, but continues to undergo speech therapy.
Johnson was stricken a month after elections that gave the Democrats a one-seat majority in the Senate, and his ailment raised the possibility that, were he to be incapacitated, South Dakota's Republican governor would appoint a Republican successor and return the Senate to GOP control.
Johnson, 60, is up for re-election in 2008. He has not said whether he will run, but several of his Senate colleagues have been helping him raise money for the election.
"The doctors tell me to pace myself and prepare for the long road, but I am determined to get back in the saddle," Johnson was quoted as saying. There was no word on when he might be able to return to the Senate.