Misdiagnosing Dementia

It has become possibly the most feared epidemic of older Americans. An elderly person who's losing their memory, perhaps becomes incontinent is often told they have Alzheimer's, Dementia or maybe Parkinson's if they have trouble walking.

Dr. Gail Rosseau of the Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch says that nearly a million people who have been told they have Alzheimer's or some other dementia, may actually have a reversible, even curable condition called Normal Pressure Hydrocphalus or NPH.

These are normal fluid filled spaces int he brain called the ventricles. If spaces are too filled with fluid the patient has symptoms. And the symptoms are gait problems, trouble with walking, urinary control, thinking problems.

The fix to this condition is called a Shunt. A soft flexible tube that drains excess cerebro spinal fluid from the brain ventricles and it runs all the way down to the abdominal cavity, where it's reabsorbed.

The signs of NPH are trouble walking, sometimes incontinence and memory or thinking problems. Those symptoms are reason for a CAT scan or MRI if the ventricles are swollen doctors will do a three-ay spinal tap to drain off fluid. Only if you get better will doctors consider installing a shunt.