- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk on Wednesday called for more funding for research to decrease the risk of strokes and to treat those who have them.

The Republican from Highland Park, who suffered a stroke in January 2012, attended a round-table discussion at Northwestern Memorial Hospital with Chicago-area stroke researchers. He emphasized the importance of funding National Institutes of Health research.

The NIH has implemented a new stroke research network in response to the lack of centralization and efficiency in prior stroke research efforts. Before 2013, stroke research often would take over 10 years per study and would exceed its budget. The new regionalized model lowers the cost of research and promotes more timely trial results.

“Stroke is the leading cause for disability among adults,” Kirk said. “I look forward to working with NIH to ensure that this unprecedented research approach will reduce the incidence of stroke and minimize disability so that we can get more stroke survivors back to work.”

Currently, no clinical data exist for stroke rehabilitation. The new NIH research infrastructure will address this problem by conducting a clinical stroke rehabilitation trial in coming months.

Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association said Chicago stroke researchers are raising the ceiling of stroke care by creating an environment supporting major scientific advancement and ensuring every stroke patient receive the care they need.

Kirk went through months of intense physical and speech rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago after his stroke and was able to return to work in Washington a year later.

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