NBC News’ Tom Llamas recently hosted a segment with board-certified neurologist Dr. Tom Pitts, discussing Parkinson’s disease and its hallmark symptoms. The conversation quickly turned to concerns about President Joe Biden’s health, with Dr. Pitts expressing frustration over the lack of transparency and preparation from the White House.


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Llamas began by asking Dr. Pitts if he had noticed any red flags in President Biden’s behavior. “Have you noticed anything that gives you a red flag as a doctor?” Llamas inquired.


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Dr. Pitts responded, “Oh yeah. I see him 20 times a day in clinic. I mean, it’s ironic, because he has just this classic features of neurodegeneration. I mean, word finding difficulties, and that’s not, ‘Oh, I couldn’t find the word.’ That’s from degeneration of the word retrieval area.”



Llamas pointed out that Biden has overcome stuttering, asking if that could be part of the issue. Dr. Pitts dismissed this, saying, “No, this is not a palatal issue, or a speech discrepancy, which is very different from a (inaudible) dysfunction, actual word retrieval, where you pick a similar question or talk around the issue, plus the rigidity monotone voice.”


When Llamas asked for clarification on the rigidity, Dr. Pitts explained, “Oh, rigidity. Loss of arm swing, standing up, lordotically, you notice when he turns, it’s kind of end block turning. It’s not a quick turn. So that’s one of the hallmarks of Parkinson’s, is rigidity and bradykinesia, slow movement. And he has that hallmark, especially with the low voices that was a cold hypophonia, a small, monotone voice like this over time, is a hallmark of Parkinsonism. I could have diagnosed him from across the mall.”


Llamas displayed symptoms of Parkinson’s on the screen and asked about Biden’s walking. “Some people have pointed out the way he walks. Sometimes it’s not very fast. Small steps. Is that something that is common in people who are battling a disease like Parkinson’s?”


Dr. Pitts confirmed, “Yea, it’s a hallmark shuffling gait. We call that so little steps, loss of arm swing from the rigidity when we walk, we have a nice cadence. You notice he doesn’t really swing his arms and end block turning, meaning he kind of pivots around his foot. If you said, ‘Hey, President Biden,’ he wouldn’t go like this.”


Llamas remarked on the difficulty of diagnosing Parkinson’s. Dr. Pitts responded, “It’s one of the easier movement disorders to diagnose, actually. But it’s so clinical. There’s very little others. And I’m a Democrat. This guy is not a hard case.”


Expressing frustration with the White House’s approach, Dr. Pitts said, “Yeah, because, you know, I’m an American before everything. And I look at it and say, when I used to see Russia, Soviet Union, North Korea, when they just make outrageous things, you know, like when, when North Korea can’t keep the lights on, and they say, ‘Oh, you know, it was some faulty power thing.’ I kind of hate that kind of stuff. They had four years. My own party had four years to find, you know, this was a wreck in slow motion, and they had four years to find, out of 350 million Americans, one person that could take the place. And here we are, the day before school, trying to do the homework and replace a guy who’s got a neurodegenerative disease.”