President Biden ‘continues to be fit for duty’, says his physician after annual health checkup

PTI, Feb 29, 2024, 10:03 AM IST

Joe Biden ”continues to be fit for duty” and ”fully executes” all of his responsibilities, his physician has said after an annual health checkup, asserting that the 81-year-old US President does not have any major health concerns.

The White House on Wednesday shared a memo with President Biden’s “current health summary” following his annual routine physical at Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre. Biden, whose health has been under scrutiny ahead of November’s presidential election, underwent the assessment on Wednesday.

“He continues to be fit for duty and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations,” Dr Kevin O’Connor, physician to the US President, wrote in a memo shared with reporters.

Biden’s annual medical checkup included speciality consultation with several Presidential Specialty Consultants.

These specialities included Optometry, Dentistry, Orthopedics (Foot and Ankle), Orthopedics (Spine), Physical Therapy, Neurology, Sleep Medicine, Cardiology, Radiology and Dermatology.

Soon after his return from Walter Reed, Biden told reporters that doctors told him he looked too young.

“They think you look too young,” he said amidst laughter. “No, there is nothing different than last year. Everything is great,” the president said, responding to questions on his health checkup.

It is a White House tradition to publicise the annual health checkup of the US President in the form of a memo from the president’s physician.

The White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at her daily news conference that Biden’s doctors decided against a cognitive test.

Such a test is being demanded by several of his political opponents, including Indian-American Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley.

“The President doesn’t need a cognitive test. That is not my assessment. That is the assessment of the President’s doctor. That is also the assessment of the neurologist who has also made that assessment as well,” Jean-Pierre said.

“The President’s doctor has said, if you look at this, the President, who is also the Commander-in-Chief, passes a cognitive test every day, as he moves from one topic to another topic, understanding the granular level of these topics,” she said.

”You saw him talk about a fighting crime today. Tomorrow, he’s going to go to the border. Next week, he’s going to give a State of the Union Address,” she added.

Asserting that this is a very rigorous job, she said that Biden has been able to do it every day for the past three years. ”And let’s not forget, he is also leading a historic presidency, which is also important to note in everything that we’ve been able to do — he’s been able to get done over the past three years,” the press secretary said.

Biden is the oldest president in the history of the United States.

The president’s health was in the news earlier this month after a special counsel investigating Biden for improperly storing classified documents suggested he was suffering from mental decline due to his age.

The 345-page report described him as ”a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory”.

”My memory is fine,” Biden said while reacting sharply to the report earlier this month. ”I am well-meaning. And am elderly. I know what the hell I’m doing. I put this country back on its feet.” Opinion polls indicate Biden’s age is a concern for voters ahead of November’s race for the White House.

In his memo, O’Connor wrote that an “extremely detailed neurological exam” showed there were no findings which would be consistent with any cerebellar or other central neurological disorder, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or other disorders.

”This exam did again support a mild peripheral neuropathy in both feet. No motor weakness was detected. He exhibits no tremor either at rest or with activity. He demonstrates excellent fine motor dexterity,” the memo said.

It added that a subtle difference in heat/cold sensation could be elicited as last year. The physician wrote that this heat/cold sensation deficit was detected a couple of inches higher on his ankle/calf this year, adding that it was not unexpected.

”There may, in fact, be a day-to-day subjective variation of these findings, as during last year’s exam, this area of sensation deficit was actually found to be smaller than the year before,” the doctor said.

O’Connor wrote that Biden’s clinical exam was normal except for a decreased range of motion and noted that the president did note some increased left hip discomfort with activity recently.

“A combination of significant spinal arthritis, post-fracture foot arthritis and sensory peripheral neuropathy of the feet is the explanation for the subtle gait changes I was investigating. This assessment is unchanged,” he wrote.

He also noted that radiographs revealed mild arthritic changes, contributing to Biden’s stiffened gait. The physician added that no additional treatment besides his ongoing physical therapy is warranted.

The memo noted the president’s height as 72 inches and weight as 178 lbs (80.7 kgs).

“President Biden is a healthy, active, robust 81-year-old male, who remains fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency, to include those as Chief Executive, Head of State and Commander in Chief.” O’Connor wrote in his memo.

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