From his own experience with a past patient, Dr. Goebel also urges otolaryngologists to consider normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) in elderly patients with balance complaints.
Explore This IssueOctober 2006
NPH is a very subtle gait disturbance, he said. Patients say they are starting to shuffle. In addition, they are having trouble controlling their bladder. A third part is memory loss.
The treatment, if NPH is caught in time, is a ventricular peritoneal brain shunt. If you’re early enough, the patient has a chance of stabilizing, Dr. Goebel said. If it gets to the point where their gait is so far off and their bladder out of control, they have much less chance of recovering what they’ve lost.
Whatever the cause of dizziness or vertigo, there’s no doubt that balance disorders are a huge health care issue for the elderly. Studies have shown that 12.5 million elderly individuals suffer dizziness with impairment of normal pursuits. More than one-third of adults age 65 and older fall each year, with falls the leading cause of injury deaths and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. A 2002 study showed that nearly 13,000 people age 65 and older died from fall-related injuries and more than 60% of the people who die from falls are 75 years old or older.
Otolaryngologists are especially well-positioned to help these elderly persons with a thorough medical history, diagnostic tests and timely treatment.
©2006 The Triological Society