Local woman warns of disease she had that was an "Alzheimer’s impersonator"

Local woman warns of disease she had that was an "Alzheimer’s impersonator" (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A local woman is sharing an important warning with anyone who might have aging parents.

She was diagnosed with a memory problem that she didn’t actually have, but how does that happen?

It’s a disease that may impact thousands of people, but you've likely never heard of it.

That's why one mother and grandmother are speaking out.

She says it took years for her to get to a team at Mayfield Brain and Spine for proper diagnosis and treatment.

She is now slowly rebuilding her life “one step at a time.”

Just a few years ago, a few simple steps weren't so simple for Sue Kline.

Her family and her now late husband began to notice something was going on.

“He'd tell me something and I would look at him like, what?” said Susan.

As her memory and movement deteriorated, she ended up in a nursing home with a probable diagnosis of dementia.

“Dementia, when I was in the nursing home they tried to get me, prove that I was incompetent,” said Susan.

But she wasn't incompetent. Dr. Brad Curt says she actually had what a Mayfield Brain and Spine team says accounts for about five percent of those diagnosed with what's commonly called the “Alzheimer’s imposter.”

NPH, or Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid in the brain.

“People get confused they have difficulty in their walking, and some difficulty in their bladder function, but a lot of people attribute it to just getting older or an Alzheimer’s type picture,” said Dr. Curt.

The good news is that a simple shunt to help reduce the fluid.

Within days, the shunt had Sue's brain showing improvement.

“She was thinking better, she was walking better, in fact she went to the nursing home and was discharged a few weeks later,”

Now with her brain function back, Susan says she can do almost anything.

“I can hold a conversation, I can walk, I can watch my grandkids,” said Susan.

But Susan also realizes that: “I’ve lost three to four years of my life with no recollection of what happened.”

She shares her story now with her Mayfield Medical Team wondering about one thing.

So, how many people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s that don’t really have Alzheimer’s?

Simple brain imaging tests may be the first step, Dr. Curt says.

For every family that needs to find out.

Dr. Curt said that nobody really knows why NPH sets in.

They often diagnose by initial symptoms and imaging and then do sort of a test procedure to see if symptoms improve when they put a shunt in the brain.

In Susan’s case, she started to respond right away.

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