Health Experts Call for Trump Physical to Include Neurological Exam, Citing 'Reasonable Concerns'

News & Politics

Citing the "reasonable" and "essential" concerns about the president's health, scores of healthcare and mental health professionals are urging the doctor carrying out Donald Trump's medical checkup Friday to also examine his neurological health.

The self-described "very stable genius" is set to receive the evaluation by Dr. Ronny Jackson, a Navy rear admiral, at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.

Citing Medicare guidelines for patients over 66 years of age, the experts say (pdf) Jackson "should include an evaluation of the 71-year-old president's neurological health, including cognitive and mental health functions."

Absent such an health assessment, "the American people will not have a clear understanding about the health and well-being of the President," the medical experts write.

They go on to cite "increasing concern" about Trump's mental capacity, including his

  • Declining faculties for complex thought, rambling speech, difficulty completing a thought;
  • Episodes of slurred speech;
  • Failure to recognize old friends;
  • Frequent repetition of the same concepts;
  • Decreased fine motor coordination;
  • Difficulties reading, listening, and comprehending;
  • Suspect judgment, planning, problem solving, and impulse control;
  • Markedly declining vocabulary in recent years, with over-reliance on superlatives.

They also underscore the importance of Jackson carrying out the evaluation of Trump's mental health and neurological functioning (and making appropriate referrals) by pointing out that an expert group tasked with assessing a president's neurological status—as former President Jimmy Carter proposed—has not yet materialized.

Urging Jackson to perform this evaluation, they write, "The health of the President relies on it—as do American lives and the safety of our nation."

Among the letter's signatories is Steven Buser, a North Carolina-based psychiatrist who conducted psychiatric exams on airmen during his time in the Air Force. He's also author of A Clear and Present Danger: Narcissism in the Era of Donald Trump.

"My biggest concern has really been the whole nuclear threat," he told Politico. "Our entire nuclear chain of command is held through DOD regulations to the highest standard of psychological well-being … except the man who has his very finger on the nuclear button."

Trump, for his part, told reporters Thursday about the physical, "I think it's going to go very well. I'll be very surprised if it doesn't."

Some details of the president's lifestyle suggest otherwise. As the Washington Posts notes, Trump

is older than all previous presidents when they first took office. He is also the heaviest president in at least a generation and consumes a diet heavy with Big Macs, Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, fried chicken, pizza, well-done steak and two rounds of dessert. He seems to get little exercise beyond swinging a golf club, as he spends most of his time on the course traveling in an electric cart. And he likes to brag about how little sleep he gets.

The White House says the results of the exam will be released next week. If past White House readouts of presidents' health evaluations are any guide, however, the public is unlikely to hear more than a brief summary.

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