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Apparent concussion hastens former pilot’s Alzheimer’s decline

Decades ago, cancer was often euphemistically referred to as the "Big C." People tended to step delicately around the topic because a diagnosis of cancer often represented a death sentence for the person who received it.

Science has made amazing progress in the fight against the various forms of cancer. But these days, a new threat seems to be taking the stage in the form of Alzheimer's. 

It hasn't come to be called the "Big A" as yet. While it's generally called a disease, some experts, worried that calling it a disease raises undue hope of a cure, have started to call it a form of brain injury. Regardless of how one addresses the matter, however, Alzheimer's is a horrible form of dementia that not only can erode the person who suffers with it, but also the lives of those who are their chief caregivers.

That’s why researchers and advocates in the dementia field make a point of stressing the importance of preparation. Long-term care services should be explored and lined up well before possible crises strike. Caregivers should enlist all the in-home care help they can so that they don't suffer emotional and physical exhaustion from the strain.

Pittsburgh readers may be familiar with the series of annual stories that has appeared in the Post-Gazette over the past six years documenting the slide into early-onset Alzheimer's of a former airline pilot. The most recent story about Alan Romatowski features how, back in September, he suffered significant head trauma in a fall, and how he has gotten so much worse since then.

The doctors who treated him chalk it up to the Alzheimer's, but the man's wife isn't convinced. Nor is the neurologist who first diagnosed the condition in 2007. He says he believes Romatowski suffered a mild concussion. But he notes that for Alzheimer's patients who may have lost much of the cognitive reserves they once had, no rebound may be possible.

We can't control much of what happens in our lives. Where personal injury results due to someone else's negligence, though, victims should know they have a right to seek compensation for their suffering. This may be especially important to consider if a victim's need for care is likely to exist for many years to come.

Source:, "A Life Hijacked: Alzheimer's 'insidious' slide," Gary Rotstein, Nov. 30, 2013

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