The Fetterman Oz debates — one neurologist’s opinion

As a neurologist, friends have asked me what I think of Fetterman’s neurologic problems.

Here is a link to the full Fetterman Oz debate (including Fetterman’s opening statement where he says the opposite of what he means — which was cut out of some Utubes of the debate). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2k1umoIGJ9A

It is far better to watch the debate and draw your own conclusions about Fetterman’s neurological state and fitness for office than listening to the spinmeisters.

After watching the link, here is what I think.

First, I’ll confine myself to the neurology.   I have no special expertise about the implications for the country if either candidate wins although, like everyone else,  I have opinions, and these opinions may well be enough to reasonably override Fetterman’s neurologic status.

Fetterman has significant cognitive difficulties, appearing not to understand questions at times, even granting the tendency of politicians to answer the question they wish they’d received rather than the actual question.  There are brief periods where he is incoherent and his speech makes no sense.  Saying the oppposite of what he means (as he did in his opening greeting) is typical of patients with speech problems.   The type of questions asked of were well known to both in advance so they had plenty of time to prepare. I don’t think he would do well in new situations or with complicated legislation.

Even in left handers, the left hemisphere is dominant for speech in half, and over 90% of the time in right handers.  So given the speech difficulty I would have loved to see if the right side of his mouth moves as well as the left when he was talking (which would imply more extensive left hemisphere damage), but he was positioned so only the left side of his face was in full view.

The failure to release his health records, implies that he is hiding just how seriously ill he was.

Still, it is possible to make some statements about his prognosis.  This depends on what he was like at the time of his stroke (so we know how far he has come in the 5 or so months since the May stroke, again something that should be available (but isn’t as he hasn’t released his medical records — which is his right of course).

My clinical experience of 32 years is that well over 50% of the recovery after a stroke has occurred by 6 months, so given his condition at 5 months I seriously doubt that he will fully recover.

Interestingly, I sent this to 8 of my cousins (who have strong opinions about everything), but none have responded.  Perhaps the current environment renders them unable to publicly say what they think, in which case they are no longer free.

It will be fascinating to see what the public makes of the debate and I’d love any comments the readership cares to make.

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