Popular vote loser Donald Trump finally had an examination by a doctor, who claims that he is in excellent shape, despite needing a little more exercise. I’m not saying that’s totally unbelievable, but the part of the story that suggests Trump himself requested a mental aspect to the exam and that he aced it scoring 30/30 sounds a little suspicious.
Dr. Ronny Jackson administered the Montreal Cognitive Assessment to Trump, which he passed with a perfect score. Vox magazine explains the problems with this particular assessment in great detail.
In short, the test is used to easily assess the symptoms of dementia and to assess the recovery process of stroke victims.
It is not, however, in any way, designed to assess if someone is fit to be President of the United States. So, perhaps it tells us that Trump doesn’t have the signs of dementia or that he isn’t recovering from a stroke, but it doesn’t tell us he is fit for President, at all.
It’s also not the only, or necessarily best, way to assess cognitive decline. Other tests recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association take into account information from family members who can report whether the person’s cognitive ability has been deteriorating over time. “There is no single cognition assessment tool that is considered to be the gold standard,” the Alzheimer Association reports in its guidelines for physicians. The Alzheimer Association does highlight three tests most suitable for quick assessment (read more about those here), and the MoCa is not among them (a few limitations being that it takes longer than five minutes to administer, and its a relatively new tool for the field.)
Which makes this tweet bragging about passing this test even more bizarre:
Yes, Jr. Congratulations, your father isn’t recovering from a stroke. The man clearly still has deeply concerning psychological issues that need to be assessed by a mental health professional. This cognitive exam is not the same thing. Not even close.
CNN’s Sanjay Gupta is a medical doctor and he points out that the test Trump took cannot always find the earliest stages of dementia, like personality or mood changes.
As Richard Friedman – professor of clinical psychiatry and director of psychopharmacology clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College – pointed out in the Washington Post that we don’t need a test to judge Trump’s fitness for office: “The most accurate measure of a person’s fitness, whether mental or physical, is observable function in the real world — not the results of a fancy test or expert opinion. The fact is that Americans already have all the data they need to judge Trump’s fitness.”