PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Wednesday, August 14, 2013

When It’s Not Alzheimer's: Little-Known Illness Mimics Dementia

Boston Globe video)" href="//s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2013/08/0814_jim-lambert.png">Jim Lampert, right, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, but his wife Terrie, left, found a specialist who diagnosed him with normal pressure hydrocephalus. (Screenshot from Boston Globe video)

Jim Lampert, right, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, but his wife Terrie, left, found a specialist who diagnosed him with normal pressure hydrocephalus. (Screenshot from Boston Globe video)

The last thing most patients do when they receive an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is seek another diagnosis.

But research shows that up to 5 percent of dementia cases are misdiagnosed cases of a treatable but largely unknown condition called “normal pressure hydrocephalus.”

It is theorized that NPH arises from excess fluid building up in the brain. The cure is to drain the fluid with shunts.

In one case described in The Boston Globe, a Massachusetts man named Jim Lampert was confined to a nursing home, unable to control his bladder or bowels, read or even carry on a conversation.

Though diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, his wife was skeptical, and finally had her husband re-diagnosed and treated.

Dr. Mark Johnson runs the Adult Hydrocephalus Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and cared for Lampert.

After Johnson surgically inserted a shunt system into his brain to drain the excess fluid, Lampert got his mobility and his life back.

Johnson has treated a number of patients for NPH, but he is still awed by the outcome of the treatment.

“I still feel that way whenever I see this transformation in patients, after the shunt has been placed,” Johnson said. “And it’s a godsend for the patients and for their caregivers.”

Guest

  • Dr. Mark Johnson, brain surgeon and head of the Adult Hydrocephalus Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

May 26 5 Comments

As Lethal Heroin Overdose Numbers Rise, Families Find Solace In Organ Donation

Organ banks around the country have noted an increasing number of organs from donors who have died of overdoses.

May 26 3 Comments

NEADS Assistance Dog Bailey Graduates From Service Dog Training

NEADS provides dogs like Bailey, a yellow Labrador, for deaf and disabled Americans.

May 25 Comment

Celebrating The Class Of 2016: Peace Odiase

Odiase is one of two valedictorians at Fisk University, a historically black college in Nashville, Tennessee.

May 25 8 Comments

NEADS Service Dog Meets His Match

Here & Now has been tracking service dog Bailey, who recently met his new owner, since last year.