By MARY CLARE JALONICK
Two months after his brain hemorrhage, South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson has left a Washington hospital and entered a private rehabilitation facility, his office said Tuesday.
A spokeswoman refused to say whether the senator remained in Washington or was moved to a facility in South Dakota, citing family concerns about media scrutiny. “They just want him to focus on getting better and not worried about outside cameras snapping away,” said spokeswoman Julianne Fisher.
The Democrat’s Dec. 13 brain hemorrhage and subsequent surgery highlighted his party’s tenuous one-seat advantage in the Senate.
Johnson was rushed to George Washington University Hospital after becoming disoriented during a phone call with reporters and underwent emergency surgery hours later. He was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, a condition that causes arteries and veins to grow abnormally large, become tangled and sometimes burst.
He was sedated and on a ventilator for several weeks due to fluid that developed in his lungs as a result of the initial hemorrhage. He was upgraded from critical to fair condition on Jan. 9.
Johnson will continue undergoing physical, occupational and speech therapy at the private facility. Dr. Philip Marion, the hospital’s chief of rehabilitation, said in a statement released by Johnson’s office that the senator has made “great progress” and a final test showed no evidence the tangled arteries that triggered the senator’s hemorrhage remain.
Part of Johnson’s therapy has been to deal with weakness on his right side. Doctors have said the senator showed that weakness when he arrived at the hospital in December.
Johnson’s office has said his recovery is expected to take several months, though he has been doing some work from his bed.
“He’s reading memos, but he still needs time for recovery,” Fisher said.
Johnson is up for re-election in 2008 and could face a tough race if he runs again in Republican South Dakota.
“That’s what he had anticipated doing before and that’s what we are working toward,” Fisher said of a re-election bid. “We are setting everything up that way. He is determined to get back.”
Copyright Ã‚Â© 2007 The Associated Press