Parkinson's Expert Visited White House Eight Times in Eight Months

According to official visitor logs, a Parkinson’s disease expert from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center visited the White House eight times in eight months from last summer to this spring, including at least once for a meeting with President Biden’s physician.

The expert, Dr. Kevin Cannard, is a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders and recently published a paper on Parkinson’s. The logs, released by the White House, document visits from July 2023 to March of this year. More recent visits, if any, would not be released until later, under the White House’s voluntary disclosure policy.

It was unclear whether Dr. Cannard was at the White House to specifically consult with the president or if he was there for unrelated meetings. Dr. Cannard’s LinkedIn page describes him as “supporting the White House Medical Unit” for more than 12 years. His bio on Doximity, a website for health professionals, lists him as “a neurological consultant to the White House Medical Unit and physician to the president” from 2012 to 2022, which would include the administrations of Presidents Barack Obama and Donald J. Trump.

Records from the Obama administration, when Mr. Biden was vice president, show that Dr. Cannard made at least 10 visits in 2012, plus one family visit; four in 2013; one in 2014; four in 2015; and eight in 2016. Mr. Trump rescinded Obama’s policy on voluntary disclosure of White House visits, so no records are available for his four years in office.

Dr. Cannard did not respond to repeated requests for comment. In a statement released at 9:40 p.m. Monday, White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor confirmed that Dr. Cannard had seen Mr. Biden three times during his three-and-a-half-year presidency, but did not say directly whether any of his other visits were related to advising the president on his health.

Instead, Dr. O'Connor implied that most of Dr. Cannard's visits were related to the care of other people working at the White House. “Before the pandemic, and after it ended, he conducted regular neurological clinics at the White House Medical Clinic in support of the thousands of active duty service members assigned to support White House operations,” Dr. O'Connor wrote.

Confirming what a White House spokesperson had previously said, Dr. O'Connor said that Mr. Biden had seen Dr. Cannard annually as part of his annual general physical and that the latest exam had not detected any signs of Parkinson's. “President Biden has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physical,” Dr. O'Connor wrote.

Dr. Cannard met with Dr. O’Connor and Dr. John Atwood, a cardiologist at Walter Reed, and one other person in the early afternoon at the White House residence clinic on Jan. 17, records show. That meeting came a month before Mr. Biden was scheduled to have his final annual physical at Walter Reed on Feb. 28.

In a six-page letter released after that checkup, Dr. O'Connor said the president's medical team had conducted “an extremely detailed neurological exam” that had not yielded “any findings that would be consistent with” Parkinson's, stroke or other central neurological disorders. Dr. O'Connor did not say whether the exam included common tests to assess cognitive decline or detect signs of dementia that are often recommended for older adults.

The White House has said in recent days that there is no reason to conduct additional tests since February. Questions about Mr. Biden’s health, and particularly his Parkinson’s, have proliferated since his disastrous debate performance against Mr. Trump on June 27. In interviews with ABC News on Friday and MSNBC on Monday, Mr. Biden said he has been undergoing the equivalent of a neurological exam every day because of the pressure of presidential duties.

Visitor logs, which have also been reported by other news organizations, including The New York Post and The Guardian, indicate that Dr. Cannard’s first recorded visit to the White House during the Biden administration was November 15, 2022. The logs indicate that he was visiting Joshua Simmons, whose title is not listed.

Dr. Cannard’s other eight most recent visits began on July 28, 2023, when he was recorded as meeting with Megan Nasworthy, a White House liaison to Walter Reed. She was recorded as the person visited for seven of those meetings, which consistently occurred early, between 7 and 9 a.m. on Fridays, with the exception of the last meeting, which occurred on Thursday, March 28, the day before Good Friday. The records indicate a 10th visit that appeared to be for a family tour of the White House.

White House spokesman Andrew Bates said that while the president always travels with trusted doctors, he “has never seen specialists in Delaware,” where he has private residences.

Around the time of the initial meetings, Dr. Cannard published a research paper in the journal Parkinsonism & Related Disorders on the early stages of Parkinson's.

A series of neurologists who have not personally examined Mr. Biden said they had observed symptoms in his public appearances that were consistent with Parkinson’s or a related disease, such as hypophonic speech, a forward-bending posture, a shuffling gait, a masked face and an irregular speech pattern. But they stressed that a specific diagnosis could not be made without a firsthand examination.

White House officials said Mr. Biden had shown no signs of Parkinson’s and that Dr. O’Connor had found no reason to reevaluate Mr. Biden for the disease after his February medical exam. Mr. Bates also said the president had never taken Levodopa or any other medication for the condition.

In his interview with ABC News on Friday, Mr. Biden declined to accept an independent neurological and cognitive exam. “I take a cognitive test every day,” he said, meaning that the unique challenges of the presidency have tested him daily.

Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday morning, Mr. Biden insisted again that his confusion and slurred performance during the debate were an aberration due in part to an infection or other minor ailment, and were not a sign of a larger medical problem.

“If there was something wrong that night, it doesn't just come and go that night,” he said. “That's why I went out. I tested myself, I tested myself everywhere I went. I went out and made my case. The night of that debate, I went out. I was out until 2:00 in the morning that night. That night. It drives me crazy, people talking about it.”

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