Post-debate medical thoughts
I’m getting lots of mail on the question of Parkinson’s Disease signs in the debate. It wasn’t very fertile ground. There are some soft items, but probably not enough for a video. I’ll use HRC as short for Hillary Clinton… Timing is on the ABC15 news video.
Remember that PD is an “up and down” disease. During periods of good levodopa levels, an early to middle stage sufferer can look and act very normally.
One correspondent thought HRC was blinking too much. But PD sufferers often slow down (not speed up) their blinking. Dry eyes are a common result. HRC’s blinking looked normal. But that’s not a change. I haven’t seen any reduced blinking with HRC.
There’s one momentary example, but it may be simply raising eyebrows in response to a Trump comment.
“Loss of Vergence”
At 1:20:04 HRC’s left eye dramatically overshot as her gaze shifted a bit left.
Within an eye blink it came back to proper convergence with the left eye. Moments later it overshot slightly to the right before coming into proper convergence. This sort of phenomenon would not be visible unless you were looking for it because it was “there and gone.” It didn’t happen enough to get the attention of commentators.
This one is an inverse comment. When I posted the first video, several people argued that HRC’s head nodding episodes were not tremors, but tics. A tic doesn’t last for 408 nods as Bloomberg counted. But let’s assume it was a tic. Why wasn’t it there at all for the roughly 45 minutes that HRC was listening?
The absence of head nodding during the passive parts of the debate strongly suggests that it’s not a tic, but rather a tremor that was suppressed by good medical therapy timed to give the best public impression.
PD sufferers tend to develop a short-step shuffling gait. HRC has not demonstrated this in any obvious form. Recent changes in physical therapy training have shown that PD patients can overcome this with various maneuvers. One is to use a metronome to create a “marching” gait that keeps moving. With practice, the metronome can be mental.
As I watched HRC walk in (00:01:07-00:01:14), I was struck that she looked like a wooden soldier. Her arm swing and stride looked almost like a goose step. It lacked the natural fluidity and variability of Donald Trump. When compared to video of 20 years ago, it’s definitely stiffer. This suggests PD with gait training.
In my “Field Guide Extra #2” I discussed the SpeechEasy earpieces for PD. HRC came with a hairstyle that exposed her ears and showed no such device. But her speech sounded about “two notches too loud for comfort.” This could be the result of attempting to consciously keep her volume up. Unfortunately, it’s just a speculation.
This one is another winner. At about 1:08:42 we see a very normal hand gesturing position
that in 15 seconds turns into
Hillary’s team did an excellent job with medical preparation. And she got lucky with no freezes. We saw a little breakthrough of her movement disorder, but it wasn’t enough to get the attention of the newsies.
My first reaction was to doubt my own earlier assessments. But then I started digging carefully, and there’s enough to keep us confident that something big is hiding between her ears.