Joe Biden
At the first Biden-Trump debate this week, age will be in the spotlight Reuters

US President Joe Biden may be suffering from a neurological disorder, according to several leading specialists in the nervous system. The 81-year-old President has recently been at the centre of numerous public mishaps, raising fresh concerns about his health.

Apart from the debate against Trump, one of the more recent and concerning incidents occurred at a fundraiser in Los Angeles, where Biden appeared to freeze on stage, staring blankly at the audience before being led off by former President Barack Obama. Just a few days earlier, multiple US news sources reported that Biden had started to wander off during a skydiving demonstration at the G7 Summit in Italy, with other world leaders needing to pull him back to focus.

This episode followed another similar incident at the White House's Juneteenth celebrations, where the President froze on stage and slurred his words during a speech.

Expert Opinions on Biden's Symptoms

Dr Ziad Nassredine, a neurologist who invented the gold-standard cognitive test, suggested that Biden's "frozen, masked faces, diminished arm swing, and less frequent blinking" could indicate a central neurological disorder such as Parkinson's. He further confirmed that slurred speech is a known symptom of Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's disease affects over 90,000 people annually in the US, making it the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in older adults after Alzheimer's. While tremors are a well-known symptom, Parkinson's can also cause stiffness, problems with limb and facial movements, and slurred speech. Additionally, it can lead to cognitive impairments affecting memory, concentration, and mood.

The White House's Stance

Despite these concerns, the White House has consistently denied any existence of a neurological disease affecting the President's health. Representatives for Biden have dismissed recent footage as "manipulated misinformation."

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated at a recent briefing, "These manipulated videos are done in bad faith," criticising the attempts to doubt Biden's health. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak supported this sentiment, telling The Telegraph that footage of Biden wandering off in Italy showed him "being very polite" by talking to all the parachute jumpers individually.

However, many voters remain sceptical. According to the latest NBC News Polling, three-quarters of respondents, including half of Democrats, expressed concerns about Joe Biden's mental and physical health. The President, a Democrat, is preparing to face former President Donald Trump in the upcoming White House election this November. Trump, whose campaign partially focuses on portraying Biden as old and feeble, turned 78 on Friday.

Legal Challenges Facing Trump

Voters are also concerned about the legal challenges facing Trump. The latest Marist poll indicates that a slim majority of respondents, 51 per cent, believe Trump should "definitely or probably serve prison time" following his recent hush money conviction in New York. Forty-seven per cent said Trump should definitely or probably not be incarcerated.

Trump is the first former President in US history to be criminally tried and convicted, found guilty of falsifying business records concerning a hush-money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Although he is not expected to be sentenced to prison, Trump faces three more criminal cases that have yet to be tried. Additionally, he has been involved in civil cases relating to his business empire.

Debate Performance and Future Implications

The first presidential debate between Biden and Trump has been widely described as a "disaster" for the current President. While Trump appeared confident and assertive, even if his claims were occasionally questionable, Biden was hesitant, stumbled over his words, and appeared to freeze less than ten minutes into the debate. This performance has led several political figures and commentators to consider the possibility of replacing Biden as the Democratic presidential nominee.

As the election approaches, concerns over President Biden's health and former President Trump's legal troubles will continue to shape public opinion and the political landscape. The coming months will determine how these issues impact the candidates' campaigns and the election's outcome.