People with Parkinson’s disease may receive a wrong diagnosis of normal pressure hydrocephalus

By Michael Bartlett

Posted on March 12th, 2021

There are currently 700,000 people in the United States who struggle with normal pressure hydrocephalus, a neurological disorder that causes thinking and reasoning problems and difficulty walking. However, in people with a history of paraquat exposure, Parkinson's disease may be mistaken for normal pressure hydrocephalus.

As a brain disorder, normal pressure hydrocephalus occurs when excess cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the ventricles of the brain. It typically affects people over the age of 60. While in the majority of cases, the cause of the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain is unknown, some people with normal pressure hydrocephalus develop this condition as a result of a tumor, head injury, hemorrhage, infection or inflammation. It is essential to know that people with a history of paraquat exposure who suffer from Parkinson's disease may initially receive this wrong diagnosis, which is why they need to seek a second and a third opinion from different medical experts. The following are the most common symptoms of normal pressure hydrocephalus, which are very similar to those of Parkinson's disease:

  • difficulty walking that resembles the way in which a person walks on a boat, with their body bent forward, their legs apart and their feet moving as if they are stuck to the deck
  • mild dementia that entails a loss of interest in everyday activities, forgetfulness, trouble performing routine tasks and short-term memory loss
  • a decline in thinking ability that refers to a slowing of thought processes, apathy, impaired planning and decision-making, reduced concentration and apparent changes in personality and behavior
  • loss of bladder control, a symptom that usually occurs later in the condition than difficulty walking and mild dementia

Because the symptoms of normal pressure hydrocephalus resemble those of Parkinson's disease, it should come as no surprise that misdiagnosis is a frequent occurrence. Thereby, if you have a family member with paraquat exposure that experiences the above symptoms, you should encourage them to visit multiple specialists in order to receive a correct and precise diagnosis, as most people who were exposed to this herbicide develop Parkinson's disease. If they receive this diagnosis, they become eligible for compensation from the responsible paraquat manufacturers.

How is normal pressure hydrocephalus different from Parkinson's disease?

Oftentimes, the start hesitation and freezing episodes that occur with normal pressure hydrocephalus bear a great similarity to the gait of people with Parkinson's disease. Nevertheless, individuals with Parkinson's disease experience rigidity and unilateral rest tremor, symptoms that are not present in those with normal pressure hydrocephalus. Moreover, in patients with Parkinson's disease, there is a normal response to L-Dopa, the amino acid that is released and used as part of the normal biology of humans, which does not apply for people with normal pressure hydrocephalus.

Lastly, it is essential for medical professionals to conduct a brain test in order to determine whether there is excess cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain, which is the telltale sign of normal pressure hydrocephalus. This sign is not present in people with Parkinson's disease, which should make assigning a correct diagnosis easier for medical specialists. It is important to know that up to 30% of people with Parkinson's disease initially receive a wrong diagnosis, which is why it is so important for them to visit more than one medical expert.

Quality legal assistance for people who have Parkinson's disease as a result of paraquat exposure

The main area of practice of our law firm is toxic exposure and, thereby, we have the necessary knowledge and resources to help you file a paraquat claim if you were exposed to paraquat and came to struggle with Parkinson's disease. Nonetheless, because we know that people with this brain disorder have trouble clearly explaining their situation, a family member needs to help them with the legal process. The only documents we will need from you are evidence of paraquat exposure and proof of diagnosis, which must be Parkinson's disease in order for your family member to qualify for compensation. Our resourceful legal experts will carefully take care of the remaining paperwork on your behalf so that your involvement in the legal process will be minimal.

A very important aspect you should be aware of is the statute of limitations for paraquat claims. It refers to the timeframe within which you can file a paraquat claim and varies depending on your state of residence. The majority of states have a statute of limitations of 2 or 3 years from the moment the person receives their diagnosis. For this reason, seeking the assistance of a specialized attorney as soon as your family member is diagnosed with Parkinson's disease is crucial, as the legal process is quite complex and we will need time to thoroughly prepare your claim for submission. Eventually, you will receive the maximum compensation your family member is eligible for from the responsible paraquat manufacturers. For more information, do not hesitate to contact us.