A rock star’s curable dementia nearly cost him his career until he finally received help after being diagnosed with NPH, also called normal pressure hydrocephalus.
The star, Dick Wagner, enjoyed a successful career before he suffered a stroke and a heart attack in 2007. Before that, he played lead guitar for the likes of Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, and Kiss.
ABC News reports that Wagner, 70, recalled:
“I woke up from a coma after two weeks with a paralyzed left arm. My profession as a guitarist, I thought was over.”
Wagner and Cooper co-wrote the majority of the band’s major songs including “Welcome to My Nightmare,” which debuted in 1975. But the rock star’s troubles were just beginning.
Despite working hard at rehabilitation, Wagner continued to experience new symptoms. Those symptoms included mental fuzziness and an odd gait. He explained:
“I couldn’t turn to the left as I walked, only to the right, and I would do a spiral and fall. I fell completely flat on my face in the driveway on the concrete. I didn’t know what had happened to me.”
After suffering another fall by his swimming pool, he underwent surgery and experienced a blood clot. The rock star was convinced his health troubles were the end of his career. Finally, his diagnosis of NPH in 2011 brought about change.
NPH is a condition that is caused by a build-up of spinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain. The fluid puts pressure on the nerves that control the legs, bladder, and cognitive function, according to The Oregon Herald.
Doctors at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona placed a shunt in his head, redirecting the fluid through a tube under his skin into his abdominal cavity. The surgery completely changed Wagner’s life. It cured the rock star’s dementia, allowing him to recover almost overnight.
NPH typically affects people over the age of 55 and presents affects similar to dementia seen in Alzheimer’s and impaired motor skills like those seen in Parkinson’s disease. About five percent of dementia patients actually have NPH, a correctable disease.
Thankfully for Dick Wagner, he was one of the five percent.