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Fetterman 'has no work restrictions,' but auditory processing issues continue, doctor says

Fetterman's primary care physician said the Senate candidate “can work full duty in public office" after having assessed his health again following his stroke in May.
John Fetterman speaks during a campaign event at the Steamfitters Technology Center in Harmony Pennsylvania
John Fetterman at a campaign event in Harmony, Pa., on Tuesday. Gene J. Puskar / AP

WASHINGTON — John Fetterman's primary care physician said in a medical update Wednesday that Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for the Senate in Pennsylvania, "has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office" after an assessment of his condition following his stroke in May.

Fetterman, who is Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor, saw his doctor, Clifford Chen, on Friday. In a letter summarizing the visit released by Fetterman's Senate campaign, Chen said Fetterman is "recovering well from his stroke and his health has continued to improve."

"His lung exam was clear, heart rate was regular, and his strength was normal in all four extremities without any strength or coordination deficits. He spoke intelligently without cognitive deficits," Chen wrote.

Chen also said Fetterman's "speech was normal and he continues to exhibit symptoms of an auditory processing disorder which can come across as hearing difficulty."

"Occasional words he will 'miss' which seems like he doesn’t hear the word but it is actually not processed properly," Chen said. "His hearing of sound such as music is not affected. His communication is significantly improved compared to his first visit assisted by speech therapy which he has attended on a regular basis since the stroke."

Chen said results from lab tests were "good" and noted that Fetterman takes medications to "optimize his heart condition and prevent future strokes." He said Fetterman "also exercises routinely and can walk four to five miles regularly without difficulty."

"Overall, Lt. Governor Fetterman is well and shows strong commitment to maintaining good fitness and health practices. He has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office," Chen wrote.

Fetterman said in a statement Wednesday that since his stroke five months ago, many Pennsylvanians have shared their stories of their own health problems with him.

"It reminds me why I’m fighting to slash health care costs and make it so every Pennsylvanian can spend more time with the people they love," he said.

Reacting to the health update, Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz's senior communications adviser, Rachel Tripp, said the clean bill of health was “good news."

“And now that he apparently is healthy, he can debate for 90 minutes, start taking live questions from voters and reporters and do a second debate now, too,” Tripp said.

Fetterman faces Oz, the celebrity TV doctor, in the midterm election Nov. 8. The candidates agreed to meet for a debate next Tuesday.

Fetterman occasionally stuttered and had trouble finding words in a recent interview with NBC News about the race and his recovery. He responded to oral questions after having read captions on a computer screen.

“I sometimes will hear things in a way that’s not perfectly clear. So I use captioning so I’m able to see what you’re saying on the captioning,” Fetterman said. 

He said the stroke, which prompted doctors to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator to regulate his heartbeat, has altered how he communicates, including with his family. But he dismissed the idea that his condition would affect his ability to serve in the Senate.

"I don’t think it’s going to have an impact," said Fetterman, who resumed his duties as lieutenant governor in May but did not begin appearing at public campaign events until mid-August. "I feel like I’m gonna get better and better — every day. And by January, I’m going [to] be, you know, much better."