John Fetterman to use closed captioning device during debate

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Democrat John Fetterman’s health following a stroke has become a campaign issue. On Tuesday night, Fetterman will be using a closed captioning device during a debate with Republicans Mehmet Oz to read the questions he’s asked.

Doctors say this is a common symptom following a stroke, having difficulty processing spoken words, but it doesn’t mean there’s a problem understanding what’s being said.

The closed captioning technology that Fetterman will be using during the debate Tuesday was tested at a campaign stop over the weekend. The system turns spoken words into writing so Fetterman can read what’s being said.

“It’s very common for patients to require aids such as closed captioning,” Temple Health Dr. Leah Croll said.

Croll, a stroke neurologist at Temple University Hospital who is not treating Fetterman, says stroke patients can have lingering problems with auditory processing and interpreting spoken words.

Does it have any reflection on cognitive functioning?

“Having difficulties with auditory processing certainly does not imply any degree of cognitive impairment,” Croll said.

Fetterman, who had a stroke in May, has been reassuring voters that he is ready to serve. His doctor has done the same, issuing a letter that the candidate “has no work restrictions and can work full duty in public office.”

“As long as I have captioning, I’m able to understand exactly what’s being asked,” Fetterman said.

Fetterman says he continues to recover from what he calls a near-fatal stroke that was treated with an implanted heart pacemaker and defibrillator. He has just recently increased his campaign appearances.

“I survived,” he said, “and that means I’m going to fight for you all because I’m back out on the ground.”

Doctors say most stroke-related symptoms resolve in months, but they can take years, so if he’s elected, Fetterman might continue to need closed captioning in the Senate.

Croll says there are a variety of devices stroke patients can access.

“The possibilities are endless in terms of how someone chooses to cope with their symptoms,” Croll said.

Croll says stroke survivors can have mild to serious symptoms. Many functions without limitations. It all depends on getting quick treatment.

Fetterman says his stroke was caused by an irregular heartbeat, which he says is now under control with medications.


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