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Innovative treatment for Dementia

The researchers at the Launceston General Hospital have developed a revolutionary treatment for dementia.//

According to the director of the LGH Dementia Research Centre George Razay merely merely draining fluid from the brain can treat one type of dementia. Over 5000 Tasmanians are affected by dementia and the figure is predicted to rise three-times by 2050.

20 patients, equal number of men and women of the age 58-92 years, from the hospital's Memory Disorders Clinic, suffering from a condition called normal pressure hydrocephalus were included in the study conducted by Dr. Razay.

"This results from a build- up of fluid in the ventricles in the brain, causing them to enlarge. This condition leads to progressive deterioration in mental functioning, eventually resulting in full dementia," Dr Razay said.

He said, "Patients with the condition could benefit from a small operation in which a fine tube, or shunt, is inserted into the brain to remove the excess fluid. The condition can also cause loss of balance and incontinence. "

"At present we do not know exactly how many people are affected," he said. "Most patients had memory problems or dementia, and the majority also used some sort of walking aide," Dr Razay said. "We found that post surgery an overwhelming 94 per cent of patients showed overall improvement. Some 71 per cent improved in memory and cognitive functioning; 94 per cent had better balance and were able to walk more easily, and 73 per cent had improved urinary functioning. "

"Our research has indicated that normal pressure hydrocephalus may be more common than first thought and that shunting can be effective in improving the mental and physical functions of patients with the condition," Dr Razay said.

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