Parkinson’s: Wrong Diagnosis

This year, tens of thousands of Americans will face a devastating diagnosis: Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, or dementia. But doctors now say sometimes when people think they have one of these debilitating diseases, their brains are really saying they have something else — a neurological disease that affects one in every 200 adults over age 65. Robyn Haines has your Healthy Living. In 2007, a doctor told 69-year-old Ramona Luckman her symptoms added up to one thing — Parkinson’s. But two agonizing years later, CT scans confirmed Ramona didn't have Parkinson’s at all. It was NPH — normal pressure hydrocephalus. NPH is a buildup of cerebral spinal fluid that enlarges the ventricles — those black spaces you see in the brain. Although symptoms of NPH can mimic Parkinson’s, dementia or even Alzheimer’s, treatment for this neurological disorder is very different. A programmable shunt was placed in Ramona’s brain. It drains about a cup of fluid a day through a long tube into her abdomen. She got about 90 percent of her abilities back. More than 750-thousand Americans may be living with NPH with many of those unaware they are affected. Studies have shown about five-percent of dementia is actually caused by NPH — not Alzheimer’s.