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Former President Gerald Ford Remains in Stable Condition After Suffering StrokeAired August 3, 2000 - 5:01 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Now we are going to go to the Philadelphia hospital where the family of president Gerald R. Ford is holding a news conference.
CALVIN MCDOWELL, FORD FAMILY SPOKESMAN: ... be the only briefing for the day simply because we just don't have anything otherwise to report. Today, I'm going to -- this evening, I'm going to take all the questions, no matter if they are medically or they're staff- related. If it's medically-directed, I'll pass it to the doctors.
And we'll take the first question.
QUESTION: How's he doing now?
MCDOWELL: How is the doctor -- I mean -- the president doing now?
DR. ROBERT SCHWARTZMAN, HAHNEMANN UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: The president is fine. He's maintaining his gains. And he's exercising. At the moment, one of the issues is his tongue is swollen. And that's being worked up.
QUESTION: Why is that, doctor? Do you know?
SCHWARTZMAN: Don't know. We're really looking at that. The ENT department is helping us with that.
QUESTION: Is that related to the stroke?
SCHWARTZMAN: No, the tongue issue is not related to the stroke.
QUESTION: Doctor, what do you mean by maintaining his gains? Is there a pace to this? Is there some way to measure that?
DR. CAROLE THOMAS, HAHNEMANN UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Basically, he's just -- he's stable from this morning to this evening, as far as his neurologic exam. So, he hasn't had any signs of any worsening. And he's basically the same, which is exactly what we would expect.
QUESTION: He's still in intensive care?
QUESTION: Doctor, someone (OFF-MIKE) on the exams that there was an anomaly in the brain, but also a slight anomaly detected in the chest. Is that true, and if so...
THOMAS: I have no knowledge of that. And that's not true.
QUESTION: What was the cause of the stroke? Was there any kind of irregular heart beat or anything like that or was it just atherosclerosis?
SCHWARTZMAN: Just atherosclerosis.
QUESTION: And was it exacerbated by sitting around a lot, not drinking enough fluid, that kind of -- age or what?
SCHWARTZMAN: No, the president otherwise is in very good health. He's got some atherosclerosis in his blood vessels.
QUESTION: What are some of the things that could cause a person's tongue to swell?
SCHWARTZMAN: It could be trauma. It could be an infection. Rarely, it's a tumor.
QUESTION: But he was slurring his speech from his tongue being swollen and from having suffered a stroke?
SCHWARTZMAN: The tongue-swelling issue started before he came to Philadelphia. And that's been maintained. The problem was earlier his speech was worse when he first had the stroke. The neurological part of it's improved. The problem we are dealing with now is the original problem he had before he came.
QUESTION: Could you give us some sense of where in the brain the stroke occurred?
SCHWARTZMAN: The stroke occurred right where you had your hand. It's right back behind -- it's right back here in the -- probably in the pons of his brain or the brain stem.
QUESTION: What functions -- if I could follow -- what functions are controlled by that part of the brain?
SCHWARTZMAN: Swallowing is controlled by the medulla, which is in that general area. And balance are the major issues and strength. The fibers that go to your arms and legs, through your spinal cord, they're all in the same area.
QUESTION: Are you telling us pretty much at this point there is nothing that is altering your prognosis, that this is now on a normal pace for how long and with what end result?
THOMAS: Yes, from a stroke standpoint, he is progressing exactly as we would expect for someone in his condition, and with the small stroke that he had. QUESTION: Doctor, is he in any pain?
THOMAS: He's -- his tongue is painful because of the swelling. And we're giving him some local -- just like a mouthwash, basically, to kind of just make that a little bit more comfortable. But that's really the only thing, as far as from the stroke standpoint, there was no pain associated with that. He's not experiencing that at this time.
QUESTION: No more pain in his arm or his hand?
QUESTION: Can you tell us a little more about the rehabilitation? You mentioned exercising, like what types of things is he doing now? How is he spending his...
SCHWARTZMAN: He's going to be walking, increase his walking primarily. And his arms are now totally strong. He's going to have balance training and we're going to work on his conditioning and walking.
QUESTION: Any additional visits this afternoon?
MCDOWELL: I'll address that in a moment, please.
QUESTION: Dr. Schwartzman, you, I believe said, tumor possible cause of the tongue swelling. Are you checking for tumors, and how do you do that?
SCHWARTZMAN: Well, basically, we do not think that's a very likely possibility. We discussed that with Dr. Hayden. He's the chief of the ENT. And the first on this list for Dr. Hayden to us was that he thinks this may be traumatic. Second on the list was possibly an infection. And he said very unlikely would be some type of growth. But that's being checked. How we're checking it, he's had an MRI. And then Dr. Hayden will decide if anything further needs to be done.
The tongue issue is really in the hands of the ear, nose and throat people.
SHAW: Dr. Robert Schwartzman and his colleagues at the Hahnemann University Hospital here in Philadelphia, responding to reporters' questions at the afternoon briefing -- an update on the condition of former President Gerald R. Ford who suffered a stroke in this city. The doctor, if you are just tuning in, said that the president's fine. He's maintaining his gains. He is exercising. But there's a problem. He has a swollen tongue. And the doctor emphasized that this is not related to a stroke. The tongue is painful because of the swelling.
Correspondent Charles Bierbauer is there at that news conference, and he will file a report later on.
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