Treating Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

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What is Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH)? What are the symptoms and how is it treated? In this Patient Power program, two leading experts from the UW Medicine Neurosciences Institute discuss the latest advances in treating normal pressure hydrocephalus. Dr. Anthony Avellino is Director of UW Medicine Neurosciences Institute and Dr. Shu-Ching Hu is Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at University of Washington Medical Center.

The program begins with Aaron Rosenthal. In 2008, he began experiencing balance problems.  A subsequent MRI showed clear evidence of hydrocephalus. After being unhappy with treatment options available at other hospitals, Aaron’s wife heard of the work being done at UW Medicine and they scheduled an appointment. He had a shunt placed in his brain and today Mr. Rosenthal leads a very active lifestyle – hiking, jogging and dancing at the age of 71! Watch Aaron’s Powerful Patient video, here.

Dr. Avellino and Dr. Hu share information about the importance of getting an accurate diagnosis and seeking care at a comprehensive center like the UW Medicine Neurosciences Institute. They explain what hydrocephalus is and the treatment options available. Dr. Hu discusses the advances being made in treatment, especially in relation to shunts. "The advent of these programmable valves is really a big advancement because now we have the ability to noninvasively use a device outside the skin to either increase or decrease the valve. And in the old days when we didn't have these programmable valves we would have to take them back to the operating room, do another operation, and put in either a higher pressure valve or a lower pressure valve.” If you or someone you know is affected by hydrocephalus, this program will give you hopeful treatment options.

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Transcript

We’re talking about a condition that can often come on for people as they get older, 60 or older, and it’s called normal pressure hydrocephalus.  And it can mimic Alzheimer’s disease and dementia or even Parkinson’s.  Now, let’s talk about that for a minute.  You could have symptoms where your head just isn’t as clear, your cognitive ability, your memory, or you can also have sort of a rigidity in walking.  Sounds like Parkinson’s, right?  Well, it isn’t.  What’s going on is there is a gradual buildup of fluid in the brain, and if that puts pressure on parts of the brain it can cause problems, urinary problems as well. 

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