Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) is a disorder, which usually strikes middle age to older adults. In NPH, the ventricles are enlarged, but there is no increase of pressure within the ventricles. The problem is thought to be due to the CSF not being fully reabsorbed by the body (through the arachnoid villi). NPH can be a tricky condition to diagnose as it is often mistaken for the beginnings of dementia, Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s. It is characterized by an abnormal gait (walk), urinary incontinence, and short-term memory problems.

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) is a communicating type of hydrocephalus. Most of patients that are diagnosed are commonly over the age of 50. However, there are patients in their 30’s and 40’s that have been diagnosed. Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) is thought to be the result of a normal functioning brain that for some reason slows or stops absorbing used CSF at a normal rate. Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) is hard to diagnose because it presents similar symptoms to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and/or dementia.

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) has 3 distinct symptoms in most cases, which include gait (walking and balance difficulties), urinary incontinence, and short-term memory loss. The onset of these symptoms generally comes about gradually.

If Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) is suspected, the doctor will order a CT or MRI to confirm whether there excess fluid present. If so, the doctor will either do a spinal tap or have the patient admitted to the hospital for a lumbar drain test. These tests will give the doctor an indication of whether a surgically implanted shunt will improve the patient’s condition.

After consulting with the patient, the doctor will usually recommend surgery and refer the patient to a neurosurgeon.

In most cases, the patient will be implanted with a shunt and sent home within 1 to 3 days, normally.

Depending on the patient, symptoms should improve over time. Some symptoms disappear almost immediately, while other improvements take a bit longer. Occasionally, the doctor will order some physical and/or occupational therapy.

Some patients will see a full return to normal activity while other patients will see varying degrees of improvement. Every “body” is different and recuperates at different levels.

For further information on this condition, please read the article from Coppley News, which has provided us with re-print copyright authority. We wish to express our gratitude to Coppley News and the writer of the article. Click to read the article: Spreading the Word about NPH

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