Medical Minute 3-7: Parkinson's: Wrong Diagnosis!

By: Vanessa Welch Email
By: Vanessa Welch Email

"I couldn't walk properly. I couldn't keep my balance. You start to feel like your feet are attached to the floor, and you can't pick your feet up. I couldn't get my words out," said Ramona Luckman.

In 2007, a doctor told 69-year-old Ramona Luckman her symptoms added up to one thing -- Parkinson's.

"That just threw me for a loop, and I started to cry."

But two agonizing years later, CT scans confirmed Ramona didn't have Parkinson's at all. It was NPH -- normal pressure hydrocephalus. NPH is a buildup of cerebral spinal fluid that enlarges the ventricles -- those black spaces you see in the brain.

"They believe that the symptoms are a result of the expansion of these fluid-filled spaces," she said.

Although symptoms of NPH can mimic Parkinson's, dementia or even Alzheimer's, treatment for this neurological disorder is very different.
A programmable shunt was placed in Ramona's brain. It drains about a cup of fluid a day through a long tube into her abdomen.

"What happens is when you start to drain the fluid, the patient's symptoms dramatically resolve," said Joseph Zabramski, M.D., Neurological Surgeon Chief, Barrow Neurological Inst.

"It worked. I feel that I've got about 85 to 90 percent of my abilities back," said Ramona.

Now, with a steady hand and an eye for every detail, Ramona is healthy, happy and back in control.

For more information on other series produced by Ivanhoe Broadcast News contact John Cherry at (407) 691-1500, jcherry@ivanhoe.com.


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