What is Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus?
Normal pressure hydrocephalus is a brain disorder in which excess cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain’s ventricles, which are fluid-filled chambers. As the brain ventricles enlarge with the excess fluid, they can disrupt and damage nearby brain tissue, leading to difficulty walking, problems with thinking and reasoning, and loss of bladder control.
Symptoms of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
The following are considered common symptoms of normal pressure hydrocephalus:
- Difficulty walking that’s sometimes compared to the way a person walks “on a boat,” with the body bent forward, legs held wide apart and feet moving as if they’re “glued to the deck.”
- Mild dementia that involves loss of interest in daily activities, forgetfulness, difficulty completing routine tasks and short-term memory loss.
- Decline in thinking skills that includes overall slowing of thought processes, apathy, impaired planning and decision-making, reduced concentration, and changes in personality and behavior.
- Loss of bladder control, which tends to appear somewhat later in the disease than difficulty walking and cognitive decline.
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Ways to Avoid Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Surgery
While few effective non-surgical options exist, normal Pressure Hydrocephalus treatments consist of relieving mood and behavioral problems, coping with physical problems such as incontinence and walking difficulties, and maximizing physical, mental, and social functioning.
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Treatments
Although there is no cure for NPH, the symptoms can be managed through surgery. Surgery involves inserting a drainage system called a shunt. One end of the shunt — which is a long sturdy, flexible plastic tube — is placed into one of the brain’s ventricles. The other end is tunneled under the skin to another area of the body, usually the lower part of the abdomen.
The shunt allows the excess cerebrospinal fluid to drain from the brain and be absorbed back into the body. A valve in the shunt keeps the fluid flowing in the correct direction at a more desirable rate, and remains in the patient’s body for the remainder of their life.
Schedule an e-consult with Dr. Morrison to discuss your NPH treatment options today.
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Prognosis
There is no cure for NPH, though early diagnosis is typically an indicator of successful NPH treatment. Even patients who have had symptoms for years are likely to improve.
In our experience, the vast majority of patitents properly diagnosed with NPH and demonstrate likely shunt responsiveness will experience rapid improvement. However, in certain cases, it may take months to see the full benefits of the procedure.
Additionally, physical therapy is essential to positively addressing gait and balance impairments. It also assists with return to a safe and independent gait, and independent personal and social functioning.
Immediately following surgery, I was standing and walking pain free. I am enjoying my life again and have Dr. Morrison to thank!
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We’ll educate you on your specific Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus symptoms, and develop a plan for your best quality of life.